The report on air passenger's rights that the Commission is busy preparing has still not been finalised and is expected to be presented 'in the next few weeks or months'. Or so said a spokesperson for the European Commission on 3 January responding to allegations in the Financial Times of the same day that the European Commission is not satisfied with the way Community rules are applied. Regulation 261/2004, which came into force on 17 February 2005, requires airlines to compensate or offer assistance to passengers who are victims of overbooking, cancellation or long delays to flights. It is an open secret that these clauses are held in contempt by the vast majority of airlines and that numerous complaints have been lodged by passengers dissatisfied with the way the rules are applied (nearly 3,500 complaints in 2005, according to the Commission). Airline companies claim that the rule lacks clarity, which has led to passengers having exaggerated expectations and meant that the Commission had to publish an explanatory note on some of the clauses in November 2006. But passengers accuse the airlines of dodging the rules.

Regularly questioned by members of the European Parliament, the Commission has never pretended that the report might be subject to an adaptation to the text, which is in fact provided for in the regulation.

Contrary to what the spokesperson claimed, it is not just a simple 'routine report' which the Commission prepares every year but rather a detailed assessment of the situation which...

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