Striking a healthier balance between air passenger rights and air carriers' vital interests in the light of Covid-19
Regulation 261/2004 is a directly applicable EU legal act establishing common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding, flight cancellations, or long delays of flights. The ‘extraordinary circumstances defence' is expressly provided by Regulation 261/2004, in favour of air carriers to justify the refusal to pay compensation to passengers. However, the concept of extraordinary circumstances is far from being clear, and continuously raises questions of interpretation. Covid-19, as an extraordinary circumstance, brings previous discussions on the weaknesses of Regulation 261/2004 back to light, particularly regarding the extent of air passengers’ rights embedded in Regulation 261/2004. Accordingly, this research aims to discuss whether the Regulation ensures the proper balance between the interests of passengers and air carriers in emergencies like Covid-19. Possible developments of existing regulation, allowing for the striking of a better balance between the interests of the aviation industry and consumer rights in situations like Covid-19, and thus ensuring the sustainability of the aviation market, are discussed. The discussion focuses on the regulation surrounding vouchers as an alternative method of reimbursement in case of the cancellation of a flight, and the extent of the right to offer assistance and care to passengers awaiting another flight.
aviation, air passenger rights, extraordinary circumstances, Regulation 261/2004, COVID-19
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