New European Union proposals could spare airlines from paying customers full compensation when flights are grounded.
Siim Kallas, the European Commission vice president, said the EU was poised to change the “denied boarding” regulation 261, which was originally introduced to protect passengers when they were unable to take the flight they had paid for.
The new stance follows strong pressure from airlines across Europe who were hit with a £2.2bn compensation bill as a result of ash cloud last April created by the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull.
The bill included putting passengers up in hotels and providing them with living expenses until airspace was re-opened, following the cancellation of more than 100,000 flights.
The regulation was also introduced to prevent airlines from overbooking flights rather than losing the cost of empty seats. The Daily Telegraph reports that Kallas is convinced that this protection has served passengers well, but also accepts the financial burden should be shared more widely.
This could mean an airport which failed to clear snow could be expected to pick up at least part of the bill.
The Commission also accepts Governments should step in and provide some financial support should there be a repetition of disruption on the scale of the ash crisis.