EU threatens KLM with legal action


AMSTERDAM—The European Commission said Monday that Air France-KLM’s Dutch KLM unit should fully compensate passengers for delays and cancellations caused by volcanic ash that shut most of Europe’s air space for periods in April and May and bring its policy in line with European Union law.

“We very much expect that following the European Commission’s intervention we would swiftly see a clarification from KLM of their policy so that it is in line with the EU law. If that is not the case then further steps that can be taken include legal action at national or EU level to ensure the EU law is fully respected,” a spokesman for the EC said.

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The Commission’s intervention came after it emerged that KLM was only reimbursing passengers for the first 24 hours that they were stranded by the ash cloud.

A KLM spokeswoman said the airline would wait for the outcome of an European Union Transport Council review of compensation before it will alter its reimbursement policy.

Airlines have been arguing that EC regulation 261, which says airlines have a duty of care to look after passengers stranded and to reimburse them any expenses incurred, is too tough on airlines, particularly in the event of a natural disaster that is beyond their control.