The impact of EU Regulation 261/2004 covers care and assistance, and sometimes compensation as well, in cases of denied boarding, flight delays and cancellations. This legislation is not limited to EU airlines only as it also extends to all airlines of any country that operate from the EU.

Possibly well-intentioned, the regulation was clumsily-drafted from the beginning and remains so 10 years later.

What is more, various courts in different lands interpret matters differently, often with unintended and inconsistent results.

Consider the effects of a very recent UK court ruling:

It has now been determined that passengers on flights delayed for technical reasons are entitled to care and assistance, and compensation, as well as being flown to their destination.

Most reputable airlines will accept that they should be held responsible when matters under their direct control go wrong. However, it will be hard for them to digest the court’s ruling that technical faults on an aircraft are not to be considered "extraordinary," so are actually judged to be under the control of the airline!

This new ruling on Regulation EU261 adds disproportionate cost to the situation, and penalises airlines for compliance with the mandated safety regime. That’s surely improper and must be unhealthy for all concerned.

Concerns have been expressed that air fares will need to rise as a result of this new judgement, and they are well-founded. However, the prime objective must be to eradicate this conflict with the safety regime.

Sort that out first, then the concern of higher air fares for all will disappear at the same time.

The EU commission, the originator of EU261 must accept responsibility for revising the regulation. The protracted delays to date must be overcome, and sooner rather than later.