European Commission publishes Guidance Material on Extraordinary Circumstances

(29 Jul 2013)

Since EC Regulation No. 261/ 2004 came into effect on the 17 February 2005 there has been much debate and dissent over Article 5(3) - the provision which, when invoked successfully, can exempt air carriers from paying compensation to passengers affected by flight cancellations (where less than 2 weeks’ notice is provided) and flight delays (where the passengers arrive at their final destinations three or more hours after their scheduled arrival times). Although the provision contains two criteria, it is the first of these - the existence of ‘extraordinary circumstances - that has caused most disagreement to-date.

In 2012 the European Commission (the Commission) established a small Working Group tasked with examining ‘extraordinary circumstances’ with a view to collating a list of events which could reasonably be regarded as meeting this criteria. The Working Group, which comprised representatives from seven national enforcement bodies (NEBs) - of which this Office was one, presented its list to the wider NEB network in April 2013. The vast majority of the wider NEB network indicated its agreement to the finalised list which was published by the Commission on its website last week.

It is hoped that the list will provide guidance to passengers with complaints concerning Regulation 261 as well as proving a useful tool for NEB and the wider industry. To view the list click here. 

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