English and european legal contexts ash cloud

In 2009 there were signs of seismic activity in Eyjafjallaj? kull located in Iceland which resulted in an eruption on the 20th March 2010. This was followed by a large explosion of ash on the 14th April which travelled long distances. This caused a lot of European airspace to be closed from 15th April for 7 days. Airspace was reopened on the 21st April 2010 after a week of grounded aircraft and hundreds of thousands of passengers being stranded both in Europe and across the World. The disruption cost airlines around 120 million a day and  110 million in lost revenue.

More than 6. 8 million passengers were affected. Several legal issues were raised due to the ash cloud. As the ash cloud cost Airlines Millions of pounds it is said that the government may be liable to compensate an airline for loss of business caused as a result of the closure of airspace. British Airways requested financial compensation from the European Union and the British Government for the closure of Airspace, basing its claim on the fact that its test flight through designated no-fly zone revealed that there were no variations in normal operation performance.

[1] Another issue that arises from the grounded aircrafts is that of, compensation towards passengers for cancelled flights. Regulation states if a flight is cancelled that all EU airlines, or airlines departing from an EU country, are obliged to offer customers a replacement flight at the earliest opportunity, or a refund to the part of the journey that is not made[2]. Many passengers, for their own personal reasons were unable to wait for replacement flights and at their own expense found alternative means of getting home.

For example Graham Cox was stranded in Beijing on April 19th 2010 and was offered a flight by British Airways for May 7th. He managed to return to the UK on an earlier flight by going to Hong Kong at his own expense, and returned to the UK on May 1[3]. Therefore a clear issue that is raised by the ash cloud is whether Graham Cox or people in similar situations are entitled to compensation for the expenses they have pocketed in order to get home. Should the airlines be obligated to pay compensation in these situations? Another issue that is raised is claims between Insurance companies and passengers.

Many passengers that were stranded because of the Ash cloud went on to claim of their travel insurance, but were told they were not covered for natural disasters; Due to this, many are seeking redress through the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). So should the insurers be made to pay compensation if it was an unforeseen natural disaster? [4] There has also been some employment issues raised when looking at the Eyjafjallaj? kull ash cloud. For many passengers the fact that they were stranded and couldn't get home also meant they couldn't get to work.

Being late and being absent from work can be seen as disciplinary offence, is it seen as reasonable for employers to see this as a disciplinary offence? Employees are required to attend work unless there is a valid reason for not attending such as sickness, or maternity. Should the employer have to pay employees that are not actually working? If employees are absent from work does their workload have to wait until they are back in work or does the employer have the right to impose their work on other employees?

[5] In conclusion, there are many Legal issues that are raised by the Eyjafjallaj? kull ash cloud crisis; which include the liability between the state and airlines, the liability between passengers and Airlines or the liability between passengers and insurers. As well as the many employment issues that arises between stranded passengers and their employers. And even though these legal issues were raised early this year, many of them are still being disputed

Bibliography

1. Ruwantissa Abeyratne, Responsibility and liability aspects of the Icelandic volcanic eruption (2010) Air and Space law. Accessed via Westlaw 2. Regulation (EC) No 261/2004, Official Journal L 46, 17/02/2004 p. 1 Accessed via Westlaw 3. Laura Whateley, Airlines still dodging compensation claims, The times, November 20, 2010 4. Ali Hussain, Insurers try to wriggle out of ash cloud claims, The Sunday times, 19 September 2010 5. Jamie Hamnett and Claire Benson, Preventing an employment eruption, (June 2010), Employment Law Journal.

Accessed via Westlaw [1] Ruwantissa Abeyratne, Responsibility and liability aspects of the Icelandic volcanic eruption (2010) Air and Space law. [2]Regulation (EC) No 261/2004, Official Journal L 46, 17/02/2004 p. 1 [3]Laura Whateley, Airlines still dodging compensation claims, The times, November 20, 2010 [4] Ali Hussain, Insurers try to wriggle out of ash cloud claims, The Sunday times, 19 September 2010 [5] Jamie Hamnett and Claire Benson, Preventing an employment eruption, (June 2010), Employment Law Journal