Responding to the EU Commission’s statement on support for aviation following the volcanic ash disruption, Flybe today gave a partial welcome to the plans but called upon the UK government to act quickly now that it has been given the green light from Europe and not use the general election as an excuse for inaction.
Flybe gave a thumbs-up to member states being given approval to begin the process of providing support for airlines impacted by the disruption and also welcomed the commitment to introduce urgent coordinated European action to revise the international procedures in the case of future volcanic activity. Flybe was also pleased to see a common-sense approach to slots being maintained where airlines were unable to use them during the airspace closure.
However, Flybe is very disappointed that the Commission is ignoring the need to reform the clearly discredited and highly discriminatory EU 261 regulation, where airlines, unlike trains, ferries or buses, are forced to compensate passengers for natural disasters such as volcanoes that lead to cancellations.
Commenting on the EU plans, Jim French CBE, Flybe’s Chief Executive said: “Flybe welcomes the Commission’s green light for member states such as the United Kingdom to start recompensing airlines for losses that were completely out of our control. The government helped the bankers, who got themselves in a total mess and we believe that the aviation industry, who were blameless for the recent disruption, should receive help. We call now for the UK government to co-ordinate an all-Party agreed process within the next seven days to allow the creation of a transparent auditable compensation scheme. ”
Commenting further, he said: “It is however, bewildering that Brussels have ignored what is staring them in the face – that EU 261 is not fit for purpose, it represents positive discrimination against airlines and aviation and needs to be scrapped.”