European budget airlines are to initiate a legal battle against the recent European Commission (EC) legislation that requires airlines to compensate passengers for delays, cancellations and being denied boarding.

The legislation sets the levels of compensation - dependent on sector length - passengers are entitled to in cases of denied boarding, and, more controversially, in the event of flight cancellations or long delays. The finished legislation has now been published in the EU's official journal and will be in force from 17 February 2005.

But the recently-formed 11-member European Low Fares Airline Association (ELFAA) claims the legislation does not solve these problems, which are in the "vast majority" of cases "completely beyond the control of the airlines".

Hapag-Lloyd Express chief Wolfgang Kurth, who heads the association, says: "The low fares airlines are very supportive of consumer protection. However, the EU legislation does not protect consumers and will instead lead to higher fares, less competition and less choice for consumers."

Source: Flight Daily News