Volcanic Ash, Cancelled Flights and Passenger’s Rights

Raymundo Larraín Nesbitt, April, 19. 2010

So, has your flight been cancelled back to the UK? Both European Parliament Regulation EC 261/2004 and of the Council of 11th February 2004 establish common laws ruling on the compensation and assistance of flight passengers in case of denied boarding or great delay in take off which is applicable and enforceable in all EU member states.

Following this regulation, in case of flight cancellation, passengers are entitled to the following (Art 7 Rights to Compensation):

  • Full refund of the air ticket within the next 7 days or alternatively to a ticket to the starting point or been driven to the destination point.
  • Pampering (drinks and food, hotel lodging, transport from the airport to the lodging destination, possibility of making two free phone calls or else send two telex, two faxes or two emails)


To a flat fee compensation which will amount to:

  • 250€ for flights of up to 1,500 kms
  • 400€ for paneuropean flights of more than 1,500 kms. For the rest of the flights between 1,5000 and 3,000 kilometres.
  • 600€ for all flights that may not be included in the above categories


Operating air carriers however will be able to waive paying compensation if they are able to prove either that a force majeure (volcanic ash is as good as it gets!) took place or else severe meteorological conditions that may compromise the flight’s security (Art 94 of Flight Law). Art 5.3 of EC 261/2004 rules further on this:

5.3. An operating air carrier shall not be obliged to pay compensation in accordance with Article 7, if it can prove that the cancellation is caused by extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken.

This waiving of responsibility is nothing more than an extension of the legal principle set forth in article 1.105 of the Spanish Civil Code whereby as a general rule no-one may be held liable to compensate as a result of unforeseen events or even if foreseen, were altogether unavoidable.

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Larraín Nesbitt Lawyers is a law firm specialized in taxation, conveyancing, inheritance and litigation. We will be very pleased to discuss your matter with you. You can contact us by e-mail at info@larrainnesbitt.com, by telephone on (+34) 952 19 22 88 or by completing our contact form.

Related article

Air Passenger Rights in Spain – 8th June 2015


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