EC Publishes Extraordinary Circumstances Guidelines

EC Publishes Extraordinary Circumstances Guidelines

The European Commission has published guidelines to clarify when a delay or cancellation should generally be considered to not be an airline’s fault (so called ‘extraordinary circumstances’). Airlines have to compensate passengers when flights are cancelled within two weeks of departure or arrive more than three hours late, but only if the issue was within the airline’s control. Regardless of fault, airlines are obliged to provide assistance to passengers, including refreshments and accommodation where necessary, even where there is no requirement to pay compensation. 

Until now, there has not been agreement on which circumstances are considered extraordinary and which are considered to be within an airline’s control. Following close co-operation between European regulators, engagement with technical experts and discussion with the airline industry, the publication of the EC list should allow passengers to have a better idea if disruption they face could lead to compensation, and should also speed up the process of assessing and paying claims.

The guidelines state:


Non-exhaustive and non-binding list of extraordinary circumstances resulting from the work of NEB for the application of the current Regulation (EC) 261/2004.

Note 1: An extraordinary circumstance is defined by the following general principle: the event has to meet the three criteria: unpredictable, unavoidable and external.

Note 2: Whilst each of the circumstances listed below is likely to constitute extraordinary circumstances for the purpose of the Regulation, national enforcement bodies are required to examine individual cases to determine whether distinguishing factors exist.

Note 3: That in each of the following examples, the air carrier must provide proof of the circumstances alleged and it must also clearly demonstrate how these circumstances resulted in the flight disruption.

Note 4: After demonstrating the existence of extraordinary circumstances, the air carrier must also explain what reasonable measures it took to subsequently avoid the disruption.

Note 5: The incident needs to be evaluated in the context of the category to which it relates.

The guidelines then list 30 ‘extraordinary circumstances’, which can be found here: Extraordinary Circumstances Guidelines.

The guidelines also includes a list of five circumstances that are NOT extraordinary and states: “Whilst the circumstances listed below are unlikely to constitute extraordinary circumstances for the purpose of the Regulation, national enforcement bodies are required to examine individual cases to determine whether distinguishing factors exist.”

  • Technical issues which arise as a result of the air carrier’s failure to maintain its aircraft in accordance with the required maintenance programme.
  • Technical issues which were found during maintenance where the part or system in question was scheduled to be checked. Over-running maintenance can be a reflection of poor maintenance planning.
  • When this occurs as a result of poor operational planning by the air carrier and inadequate flight and turnaround times being allocated for the aircraft.
  • Where the failure to prepare and submit the documentation necessary to operate the flight was due to factors within the air carrier’s control.
  • SAFA aircraft inspections which reveal technical issues which require immediate assessment and/or aircraft repair. (These are issues that should have been addressed during the normal maintenance or operation of the aircraft.)
Click to add a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


NEIL STEEDMAN has been a trade journalist, copywriter, editor and proofreader for 50 years, and News & Features Editor for ‘Irish Travel Trade News’ for the past 40 years.

More in News

Aer Lingus Seattle

Aer Lingus Launches Super-Low Stateside Fares

Michael FloodMarch 17, 2018
John Spollen, Cassidy Travel, receives the ITTN Industry Achievement Award

John Spollen Nominated Unopposed for ITAA President

Michael FloodMarch 16, 2018
Hainan Airlines A330-300

Hainan Airlines to Fly Non-Stop Dublin-Beijing

Michael FloodMarch 15, 2018

Aegean Airlines and Dublin Airport Host Trade in Cooks Academy

Michael FloodMarch 15, 2018
Happy St Patricks Day from ATTS

Happy St Patrick’s Day from ATTS

Michael FloodMarch 15, 2018
Emirates New B777-200LR Business Class

Emirates Unveils More Spacious Business Class Seats on B777 Aircraft

Neil SteedmanMarch 14, 2018
Job Opportunities

World Travel Centre Seeks Operations Manager

Neil SteedmanMarch 14, 2018
Eurowings Boomerang Club

Hertz Enters Global Partnership with Eurowings

Neil SteedmanMarch 14, 2018
WTM London 2017

WTM London Announces New 
Exhibiting Area for Marketing and PR Professionals

Neil SteedmanMarch 14, 2018

Copyright © 2016 Belgrave Group Limited, C4 Nutgrove Office Park, Nutgrove Avenue, Rathfarnham, Dublin 14, Ireland