No-frills airlines are confident of achieving a last-minute alteration to the European Commission's denied boarding compensation proposals ahead of a European Parliament vote this week. Ryanair is leading other members of the newly formed Low Cost Group lobbying body to ensure that compensation claims are only valid when denied boarding is the fault of the airline.

Jim Callaghan, Ryanair's head of regulatory affairs, says the proposal, which has been approved by transport ministers, has now gone too far to be rejected, but that the wording can be "clarified further" in no-frills carriers' favour. Callaghan admits that, for most of its existence, Ryanair saw the EC as a "repository for complaints about network carriers' abuse of competition law" and that it has suffered from not taking an interest in regulation until the last minute. In December, the Irish carrier joined EasyJet and several other no-frills airlines to present a united front in Brussels.

The Low Cost Group is now seeking changes to the text to make third-party delays exempt. The current proposal rules out air traffic control delays and natural disasters, but is vague in the area of ground workers' disputes, local infrastructure failures and meteorological constraints, says Callaghan. The proposal sets a minimum level of €250 ($270) in passenger compensation for cancelled, overbooked or seriously delayed flights.

Peter Faross, head of the economic regulation unit of the EC's transport and energy directorate-general says the level of impact on low-cost carriers was not very well assessed during the preliminary stages and that he expects parliament to make compensation conditions "more coherent" before measures come into force later this year.

Source: Flight International