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Background: was due to fly PRN-DUS-MAN, but 3 days before departure, the PRN-DUS route was reduced for July, running on Wednesdays and Saturdays rather than daily.

My immediate view is that such a service reduction is invariably a voluntary business decision, i.e. within the airline's control.

I now got a refusal not providing any clear details (original in German HERE):

We thank you for your message and apologise for the inconvenience.

We regret that we couldn't operate your flight EW6604 as planned. The cause of this was extraordinary circumstances which we couldn't avoid despite careful planning.

The legal regulations do not prescribe compensation when a so-called extraordinary circumstance applies. According to the European Court of Justice (ECJ), this term refers to any and all circumstances ultimately derived from events which, based on their nature, cause or impact, are not part of regular operations of the concerned airline and are outside of their actual sphere of influence (ECJ C-549/07). In particular, this includes external damages (e.g. bird strikes or foreign objects on the runway), strikes, severe weather, as well as all kinds of airspace restrictions due to governmental directives.

Per the view of the [German] Federal Court of Justice (BGH), this further includes all disruptions not immediately affecting the concerned flight, but indirectly having an effect on your flight (e.g. BGH X ZR 104/13 or X ZR 121/13). It is possible, such as in your case, for various external factors during the day to add up. Such a chain could cause further inevitable disruptions and eventually also affect subsequent flights.

This year too, regrettably, the staffing conditions of the different European air navigation services have been very tense. Therefore, delays could occur during the coordination of flight movements, especially through multiple airspaces. Such directives from flight control authorities, airport authorities or other governmental bodies must be followed, whereby any caused delays, as per case law, are to be classified as an external intervention in the planned flight operations, and therefore outside the scope of influence of the concerned airline (e.g. BGH X ZR 115/12).

The flight schedule of an airline is comparable to a clockwork, which only works if all cogwheels clutch together. If an impairment occurs during such a sensitive process, a delay or even cancellation of a flight is most often inevitable.

In order to reduce the impact on our guests as much as possible, we naturally arrange replacement aircraft to reduce delays or prevent cancellations. Unfortunately, in your case it wasn’t possible for us to take further reasonable measures and operate your flight as planned.

We’ll gladly examine the possibility of reimbursement as per the right of care (e.g. catering during the waiting time at the airport). You may send us the corresponding receipts as a reply to our message for review.

We hope to be able to welcome you onboard soon again in spite of the inconveniences.

My question is: what errors, if any, can I point to? I want to give them one last chance before taking the matter to the Kosovan civil aviation authority.

Note: again, it wasn't a cancellation on a single date nor a suspension of the route, but a service reduction for all of July.

UPDATE 2020-11-26: just received the compensation on my bank account today- Took almost 5 months from the disruption taking place, but well worth it!

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    You probably want to take it up with EU authorities, not the ones in Kosovo – JonathanReez Jul 22 at 14:14
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    @JonathanReez How so, given that the Kosovan one deals with EC261 as well? – Crazydre Jul 22 at 15:34
  • The travel aspect of this question is all past. You're asking for opinions on the airline's stance prior to escalating through the regulatory authorities. This is more properly a legal question now. You should ask on Law – user105640 Jul 22 at 20:07
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UPDATE: the Kosovan civil aviation department just emailed me saying Eurowings backed down and will issue EC261 compensation as well as reimbursing the lost train ticket.

So for anyone claiming any and all cancellations having anything to do with COVID-19 is ineligible for compensation: not true, as I've said the whole time.

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Current EU practices and interpretation are quite clear and consistent: You are entitled to a refund of the ticket price but not to any compensation beyond that.

If they are refusing a refund, they are incorrect. If they refuse extra compensation, they are correct.

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  • Sorry, but this doesn't really answer the question. There's no refund to be claimed as I was re-routed, but I arrived 8 hours later, with 2 hours being the limit for compensation (as the change occurred 3 days before departure) – Crazydre Jul 22 at 15:35
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    @jcaron The onus is on the airline to prove they're exempt from paying compensation, which I've explicitly invited them to do, but so far in vain. – Crazydre Jul 22 at 15:37
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    @Crazydre as far as I remember, they are required to give a specific reason for the failure to operate the flight. If your flight was not operated because some factors outside their control affected another flight or flights, they must still provide a specific account of those factors in explanation of the cancellation of your flight. If they cannot document those factors then they may not claim that the cause was outside their control. I am not in a position to provide sources just now, but I might be able to in a couple of days. – phoog Jul 22 at 16:58
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    @phoog Would be much appreciated if you could, as IIRC you're a lawyer (?) – Crazydre Jul 22 at 17:49
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    @phoog They now replied that they won't provide a detailed explanation or evidence owing to data protection regulations. Utter BS, but what exactly can I point to to debunk that (also I've forwarded it to the Kosovan aviation inspectorate)? – Crazydre Jul 25 at 21:29

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