‘Act of God’ will not wash with the European Commission. Even though the volcanic ash eruption over much of Europe was the work of nature, Brussels has warned companies forced to ground planes that air passenger rights must be respected.
Consumer rights groups said compliance with the rules has been low, and even urged government sanctions against shirkers. Jilted travellers have the right to a ticket refund with all taxes or rerouted alternative transport, the right to accommodation and to be fed if they are delayed.
A European Commission spokeswoman said: “They are not negotiable, and we expect airlines to enforce them, and we expect national authorities to do their job and watch to make sure the situation —that the laws are enforced… and we at the European level are watching the situation very carefully.”
The airlines’ association IATA complain they’re enough out of pocket already: more than 1.2 billion euros. The International Air Transport Association said:
“We estimated the airlines were losing 200 million dollars a day in revenues. And that was a conservative number because it was related to a limited number of hubs.”
IATA acknowledged that, even under extraordinary circumstances, the EU holds airlines responsible for paying for hotels, meals and telephoning.
Many passengers are still stuck. Keep those receipts.