European Commission proposals to revise air passengers’ rights regulations have attracted more than 500 amendments in the European Parliament and Council of Ministers.

Airlines and industry bodies have been lobbying hard for revision of EC Regulation 261/2004 on air passenger rights, especially since the European Court of Justice ruled passengers are entitled to compensation for flight delays.

Carriers say the rules lead to higher fares and have broadly welcomed transport commission proposals to qualify the compensation requirements.

However, Noura Rouissi, advisor on passenger rights to the European transport commission, told the Iata World Passenger Symposium in Dublin: “The proposal is being discussed by the European Parliament and Council of Ministers and already 500-600 amendments are proposed. It shows how difficult this is.”

Rouissi highlighted proposals broadly welcomed by airlines. The revised regulation would include a new definition of ‘extraordinary circumstances’ in which airlines could cancel flights without paying compensation.

The commission also proposes limiting airlines’ liability towards passengers in the event of serious delay to three days.

Rouissi said: “We learned from the volcanic ash. Under the current regulation there is no limit to airlines’ liability.”

The Commission also proposes extending the period before a passenger becomes entitled to compensation for a delay. This currently kicks in at three hours following the European Court of Justice ruling.

Rouissi said: “We propose to increase it to five, nine or 12 hours according to the length of flight.” She said: “We want to clarify this and not leave it to the court to interpret.”

Ireland’s permanent representative to the EU, Michael Harper, told the symposium: “We need to avoid the creation of perverse incentives where airlines cancel flights to avoid delays.”

Ryanair has repeatedly slammed the EC regulations for not linking compensation rules to the cost of fares, and Harper said: “There is a case for looking more closely at compensation related to ticket prices.”

Lufthansa director of EU affairs Regula Dettling-Ott said: “We see more and more small claims [for compensation] and more and more companies pursuing claims. It is a business model for certain law firms.”