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On 4 March British Airways decided to cancel all flights CPH <-> LHR between 7-29 March; this was 9 days before my booked flight. However, they kept the ARN <-> LHR route during this period.

They're refusing me EC261 compensation and have sent comments to the Danish national enforcement body who are looking at the case. The latter have asked me to get back to them within 14 days with comments.

Given the great advice given on Norwegian refuses EU delay (4.7 hours) compensation because it turned out there was nothing wrong with the aircraft, I'd like to upload BA's response and ask if there's anything I could add in my favour?

BA's response: HERE

What I've stated so far (before getting the linked message) is that this appears to be a business decision due to insufficient demand caused by the pandemic. A sensible decision perhaps, but why with less than 2 weeks notice, unless either country closed the border/banned flights to/from the other specifically during the concerned period (8-28 March), which is NOT the case here? Though Denmark banned entry for UK residents in January and February, this was lifted on 1 March (not to say restrictions didn't remain). Yet, only between 7-29 March did they choose to cancel the route CPH <-> LHR, whilst keeping ARN <-> LHR.

For comparison, Eurowings reduced its PRN <-> DUS route in July 2020 clearly for similar reasons, cancelling on me 3 days before departure. They initially claimed extraordinary circumstances, but once the Kosovan national enforcement body got involved they backed down.

FWIW, this article by the UK CAA states:

There may be other circumstances where airlines seek to cancel flights within the 14 day period due to the economic and environmental consequences of operating flights with only a small number of passengers on board. Such circumstances could arise as a result of restrictions applied within the country of destination, for example restrictions on movement within the country (e.g. lockdown/shutdown measures implemented by the local or national government) as well as restrictions on access to local services that are critical for non-residents (e.g. hotel closures, restaurant closures, etc), which will have affected whether passengers take their flights. Such circumstances may be viewed as extraordinary circumstances under UK (EU) Reg No 261/2004 and therefore the fixed sum compensation would not be payable, but this may not be the case in all circumstances.”

Again, there was no tightening of Danish regulations specifically in March.

Any input will be much appreciated. Thanks in advance

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  • Was your flight from CPH to LHR, or LHR to CPH? (The rules are different due to the UK not being in the EU).
    – Doc
    Nov 30 '21 at 17:52
  • @Doc Per BA's letter (linked), CPH-LHR
    – jcaron
    Nov 30 '21 at 18:03
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    I'm all for holding airlines to account, but sometimes you have to pick your battles, and I'm not sure this is a battle worth fighting. Make sure you get your money back, sure. Compensation, in normal circumstances, sure. In a situation like this where, over 2 weeks, they had only 2 flights on that route (instead of 96 a year before) and carried only 261 passengers, pursuing them for compensation is like beating on a dead horse. Note that this means they had probably already reduced flights on the route to 1 per week or less, so "cancelling from 7 to 29/3" probably means "cancelling 2 flights"
    – jcaron
    Nov 30 '21 at 18:18
  • @jcaron Indeed they had a weekly flight (Sundays) until taking a break. Meanwhile ARN <-> LHR kept running each Sunday during the break for CPH flights.
    – Crazydre
    Nov 30 '21 at 18:44
  • Note: you should put relevant part of the letter in the question. pastebin link will not remain. And this is a reference site (not a forum), so it is important to be able to have full case in the question. -- Airlines often refuse compensation. Just continue complaining, and e.v. go to the national authority. Unfortunately this is the "rule" and not the exception. Document every exchange you had with the airline. Dec 1 '21 at 15:21
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In March of 2020, the European Union published a 'Notice' entitled "Interpretative Guidelines on EU passenger rights regulations in the context of the developing situation with Covid-19" which covers their interpretation of EU261 with respect to Covid-19.

Section 3.4 of this document covers the "Right to compensation" for airline cancelations which occur with less than 14 days notice (where compensation would generally otherwise be required), and basically gives the airlines the right to avoid compensation when a flight is cancelled either directly or indirectly due to Covid-19 regulations enforced by governments.

Of specific relevant are the statements that :

This condition may also be fulfilled, where the flight cancellation occurs in circumstances where the corresponding movement of persons is not entirely prohibited, but limited to persons benefitting from derogations (for example nationals or residents of the state concerned).

At the time, whilst Denmark was allowing passengers from the UK, they were still restricting travel from most other countries in the would, so technically the above would apply - even for flights from the UK.

As you were flying to the UK, the following is also relevant :

Again, depending on the circumstances, this may also be the case in respect of flights in the direction opposite to the flights directly concerned by the ban on the movement of persons.

Thus the cancelation of the LHR-CPH flight (due to covered reasons) would be a sufficient reason to cancel the return flight without offering compensation.

Finally, the notice allows for :

Where the airline decides to cancel a flight and shows that this decision was justified on grounds of protecting the health of the crew, such cancellation should also be considered as ‘caused’ by extraordinary circumstances.

which obviously gives the airline an additional very open-ended claim for a reason for cancelling the flight.

Under general circumstances you would seemingly have a very clear-cut case for compensation as a result of this cancelation - but in current conditions, and given this specific notice from the EU, your request for compensation is unlikely to be successful.

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  • Thanks for the input. Begs the questions though: why only cancel after the Danish entry ban was lifted, and why with less than two weeks' notice? Lastly, what's the crucial difference from an airline (Eurowings in July 2020) reducing the schedule of a route less than 2 weeks in advance, which was established NOT to exempt them from compo?
    – Crazydre
    Nov 30 '21 at 18:43

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