Airline passengers may soon no longer be able to claim food and lodging from their carrier if a flight is grounded. Vice president of the European Commission, Siim Kallas, has announced that a review of regulation 261 is needed. The decision follows pressure from the aviation industry following the eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano last year. The subsequent ash cloud meant airlines across Europe were forced to cancel around 100,000 flights at a cost of £2.2 billion.
The bulk of the bill was made up of airlines having to put stranded passengers up in hotels; something the industry claims is not fair. Heavy snows and air traffic control strikes have also resulted in carriers picking up the bill for disrupted passengers.
The regulation which requires airlines to take care of stranded passengers was first introduced to protect passengers against airlines deliberately cancelling and delaying services which still had empty seats in an attempt to save money.
However, many carriers claimed that the law should not have been applied after the Icelandic volcanic eruption or when extreme winter weather forced the closure of airports. Budget carrier Ryanair has long been opposed to the law claiming that any additional costs imposed on airlines would simply be fed back to passengers through increased ticket prices.
Last week, the low-cost carrier announced that it would be introducing a €2 surcharge to help pay for the expenses it has accumulated over the last 12 months. A spokesman for Ryanair said it was unfair that airlines should foot the bill if airports can’t clear snow or governments close airspace.
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