The Challenges of Emergency Risk Regulation
Edited by Alberto Alemanno
Chapter 13: Unexpected Turbulence: On the Application of the Denied Boarding Regulation to Exceptional Situations
Morten Broberg 13.1 WHEN REALITY EXCEEDS IMAGINATION On 20 March 2010 the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull began to erupt. The ﬁrst eruption was followed by a second on 14 April 2010. Due to favourable winds, ash from the new eruption began to spread across Europe and, as there was fear that the volcanic ash could pose a danger to air trafﬁc, the authorities on 15 April 2010 began to close down European airspace. The ash cloud spread over great parts of Europe and so did the closure of airspace. The ﬂight ban was only lifted several days later (Eurocontrol, 2010). In particular European air carriers were severely affected by the ban. Thus, according to the Financial Times (2010) the no-ﬂy zone, which had been imposed over much of Europe, was threatening the livelihood of a number of carriers. The air carriers lost money due to much reduced revenue following the grounding of their planes and as a consequence of signiﬁcant costs ﬂowing from their obligations vis-à-vis the stranded passengers (BBC 2010a; European Commission, 2010, paras 2, 7 and 13ff) – not least obligations imposed by Regulation 261/2004,1 or the Denied Boarding Regulation as it is generally known. This Regulation lays down passengers’ minimum rights where they are denied boarding or where a ﬂight is cancelled or delayed.2 When drafting the Denied Boarding Regulation the drafters unambiguously had the Regulation cover both ordinary and extraordinary circumstances. However, the Icelandic ash cloud was not merely extraordinary; rather it...
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