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Publication of the Steer study on EU261


ERA summary of the Steer study on APR.pdf
Slides presented by Steer during the closing event.pdf

Following the release of the study ordered by the European Commission and conducted by the consultancy Steer on the current level of protection of air passenger rights in the EU, results of the work were shared with stakeholders during a closing conference held in Brussels on 30 January.

The event was structured around the content of the study by representatives of Steer first presenting the background and methodology, than the content and conclusions of each chapter separately. A presentation of each chapter was followed by a Q&A session where both the audience on site and those following the event via web streaming had the opportunity to raise questions or express their views. Comments coming from the airline industry welcomed the study as evidence that EU261 has not been successful in incentivising airlines to mitigate the risks of disruptions, and also that of improved airline performance, as figures reflect a clear downward trend in the number of delays and cancellations. However, airlines are liable for almost all delays and cancellations as extraordinary circumstances are almost non-existent (due to detrimental CJEU rulings). The high costs this regulation puts on airlines, combined with the fact that compensation is not the first priority for passengers, pleads in favour of having a solid list of extraordinary circumstances and of not imposing compensation after a missed connection. Findings of the study show that from passenger perspective, the system is neither transparent nor efficient; instead of a simple system with fair outcome there are a lot of complexities with limited transparency.

In its closing remarks, the Commission stressed that the aim of this ‘fact-finding study’ was to support the intra-institutional discussion of the European Parliament and the Council that are now the main players in deciding the next moves regarding EU261. It was stated that the Commission’s proposal from 2013 that would amend the current regulation is still fit for purpose and as passenger rights (‘one of the flagship policies of the EU’) will be still high on the political agenda, the Croatian presidency is starting the discussions at Council level with the ambitious aim for the 15 June Transport Council to adopt a 'General Approach'. It will be on that basis that the Council and the Parliament (who adopted its first reading in February 2014) will need to find a compromise.

The video of the event can be watched until the end of March here, whilst the slides presented on site and ERA summary on the key findings of the study can be downloaded from the top of this page. See also the website section on passenger rights.