Compensation for the Volcanic Ash

By | Category: Travel rumblings

Eruption of Eyjafjallajökull Volcano last year, Iceland (Image Courtesy NASA Earth Observatory)

We all remember the closure for a week of our airspace caused by the ash spewing from the Icelandic volcano, Eyjafjallajoekull. I was stuck twice as a result of the fun and games so had to resort to the train to return. Luckily I was only in Glasgow on each occasion unlike people trapped around the world who were well and truly stuck. Under EU law, airlines are responsible for compensation due to delay and cancellation. And as we know, Ryanair strongly objected but eventually gave way, KLM is rumoured still to be refusing to pay and many airlines are unhappy. Lobbying is going on behind the scenes to get the EU law changed. Aer Arann was very badly hit and is now in “examinership”

The legislation, as CD-Traveller said at the time, was not designed for this action. It was there so if airlines had delayed flights or decided to cancel flights because they were a quarter full or they had no available planes then they couldn’t renege on a contract with passengers. Acts of God, as we found insurance companies viewed the ash disruption, are things difficult to plan for. Isn’t that something that we as passengers have to put up with and governments as the end deposit of our taxes should help with?

Now the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has entered the argument by “insisting” (a strong word for them) that the EU reconsider matters. Since it was not due to mismanagement, they claim it should be altered. Falling back on the tax burdens and regulation they plead they don’t need any more problems. As the Carry On films would say, there just a bunch of pleaders!

But I agree with them.

The courts are also taking an interest. All compensation claims have been suspended and our High Court has referred the issue back to the European court to reconsider the interpretation of the law. Don’t hold your hat for a quick outcome.

Yes I realise that, for one of the few times in my life, Michael O’Leary and I are on the same side. I am more than happy to castigate airlines when they don’t deliver or try to evade their obligations but on this occasion, I think it comes down to just one of those events that comes along every once in a blue moon. If anyone is responsible it looks to be governments who, for reasons of safety, went too far. But then if one plane had come down with casualties, we’d have a very different attitude.

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