easyJet welcomed last week’s AUC annual report and its ‘good work throughout
the year’ but responded with the following statement:“This year’s annual report rightly focuses on the increased number of complaints
and enquiries following the introduction in February 2005 of new EU legislation that
gives passengers greater rights in the event of flight cancellations, delays and
over-booking. easyJet has always complied with this legislation and it has always
been easyJet’s policy not to overbook and we have always tried to avoid delays and
cancellations wherever possible, as this is an essential part of our business
This legislation, while having its heart in the right place, is one of the worst
pieces of legislation ever to emerge from Brussels, has led to some paradox outcomes
and has caused the jump in complaints to the AUC this year. There are three
Firstly, the AUC has previously mentioned how the new rules have raised consumer
expectations to unrealistic levels and how airlines’ relationships with their
passengers have deteriorated despite airlines doing more for their passengers
(paying assistance, hotels and transfers and refunds in events when airlines are
clearly not at fault, such as bad weather, ATC strikes and government events) - yet
this element is curiously lacking from the AUC’s announcement.
Secondly, the way the legislation was communicated by the Commission, MEPs and the
media has led air travellers to believe that they are entitled to additional
compensation in circumstances when they are not.
Thirdly, the legislation makes airlines financially responsible for delays that are
wholly beyond their control. While airlines are only one part of a long, complex
supply chain, they are the only ones held accountable under the legislation simply
because airlines directly face the consumer. Airlines face the grief and the AUC
report is a clear proof of this. Here are some examples where airlines have been
forced to provide expensive hotel accommodation, transfers, refreshments, etc for
events over which we have no control and no means of regress from the party that
caused the disruption.
Just to give a few examples:
* Every time that Air Traffic Controllers in Europe choose to strike,
Europe’s airlines are forced to cancel hundreds of flights and pay assistance,
hotel accommodation and transfers. Paradoxically, the legislation seems to encourage
strikes as they know that the airlines have to take care of passengers and foot the
huge bill - and face the anger and frustration.
* easyJet has incurred a bill that could run to €100,000 for ten flights
that were cancelled by German Air Traffic Control in and out of Berlin on the
evening of the World Cup final as ATC decided to give priority to the arrival of
sponsors and fat-cats on corporate jets.
* easyJet and other airlines were forced to cancel a number of flights due
to the decision to close one of Rome’s commercial airports for the funeral of Pope
John Paul II, leaving easyJet with a huge bill for assistance, transfers and the
consequences of knock-on effects on other flights.
* Airlines in Germany were forced to cancel hundreds of flights in February
2005 when the arrival of George Bush effectively closed airspace over large parts of
The AUC has chosen the right subject for this year’s annual report but easyJet
regrets that it has chosen to only communicate half the story. “