It seems that the day the UK leaves the EU is nearing. As we move closer to that date, airline passengers are becoming increasingly concerned about how this may affect their rights to compensation for delays and cancellations.
It remains to be seen whether a deal will be struck with the EU or whether Britain will exit with no deal. Below we explain the current guidance on your legal rights, for claiming flight delay compensation post-Brexit, deal or no deal.
What Are The Implications of Leaving The European Union For Flight Compensation?
The Government has said that in the event of a Brexit no deal, passenger flight rights will remain the same. If there’s a deal, then it seems likely that the government will adopt EU Regulation 261/2004 into UK law and things will continue as they are.
This guidance has been outlined by The Department for Exiting the European Union, who has published The Great Repeal Bill White Paper detailing the proposals for a functioning statute book upon leaving the EU.
The Government has said that in the event of a Brexit no deal, passenger flight rights will remain the same.
In addition, The European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 provides that EU Regulations – as they are applied in the UK at the moment will be converted into domestic law by the Act and will continue to apply until legislators in the UK decide otherwise.
According to the Government, everything should stay the same, which is good news for passengers.
What Is EU Regulation 261/2004?
It is applicable to EU Member States and countries not in the EU but that have adopted the regulation (such as Norway, Iceland and Switzerland).
The regulation applies to any flight departing from a Member State airport, or any flight arriving into a Member State airport on an EU carrier.
What Happens To EU261 If We Leave The EU?
The Repeal Bill White Paper states in section 2.8 that ‘EU regulations – as they are applied in the UK the moment before we left the EU – will be converted into domestic law by the Bill and will continue to apply until legislators in the UK decide otherwise.’
So initially this seems like a plus point. The EU 261 regulation will be brought into domestic law and so will still apply to passengers based on the wording of EU261.
However, there are two crucial elements to this point.
The first is that the regulation will continue to apply ‘until legislators in the UK decide otherwise’. This means the government can simply decide to end any EU regulation should they so desire.
The second is that were we to leave the EU, then we would fall out of the scope of EU261 which states that a flight is covered if it departs an EU airport or arrives in the EU on an EU carrier.
With the UK no longer in the EU we would lose coverage on all flights except those from the EU arriving into the UK, and flights from the UK to the EU on EU airlines.
How This Might Affect Passengers On UK Based Airlines
In the unlikely event that passengers would not be covered by EU Regulation 261, passengers on UK based airlines would have less rights than they currently enjoy.
Currently, all passengers who may be flying on a UK based airline who are delayed at a UK airport are covered under the regulation and would be entitled to compensation as well as care and assistance.
Furthermore, anyone stranded outside the EU waiting to fly back to the UK on a UK airline would also be covered and afforded the same protection under the regulation.
However, if we were we are no longer part of the EU, and EU Regulation 261 hasn’t been adopted by the UK Government, no-one in either of the above situations would be covered by the regulation. They would not be entitled to any financial compensation, re-routing, overnight accommodation, or food and drink during the delay.
The only UK flights that would still be covered are those arriving into the UK from the EU.
Current and Post-Brexit Coverage of EU Reg 261:
|Departing from||Arriving to||Airline||Currently Covered||Post-Brexit *|
|The UK||EU Member State||EU airline||Yes||Yes|
|The UK||EU Member State||Non EU airline||Yes||No|
|The UK||Non EU Member State||EU airline||Yes||No|
|The UK||Non EU Member State||Non EU airline||Yes||No|
|EU Member State||The UK||EU airline||Yes||Yes|
|EU Member State||The UK||Non EU airline||Yes||Yes|
|Non EU Member State||The UK||EU airline||Yes||No|
|Non EU Member State||The UK||Non EU airline||No||No|
*Based on UK Government not adopting EU Regulation 261.
As you can see, the impact on coverage of the Regulation, were the UK to cease membership of the EU, and choose not to adopt EU Regulation 261 into UK law, is significant. Flights departing the UK are affected the most as the UK effectively becomes a Non-Member State.
As things currently stand, this looks unlikely, and we would expect the laws that passengers currently enjoy to remain in place.