If a departure is delayed by 2, 3 or 4 hours (depending on the flight distance), the airline is required to provide assistance to the passengers.
In accordance with Regulation (EC) 261/2004, a flight is deemed to be delayed if it meets the following criteria:
- Departure delayed by 2 hours for flights with a distance of up to 1,500 kilometres
- Departure delayed by 3 hours for flights with a distance of between 1,500 and 3,500 kilometres
- Departure delayed by 4 hours for flights with a distance of more than 3,500 kilometres
In the case of such a delay, the airline is required to offer the passengers meals and beverages in reasonable relation to the waiting time. If their onward flight is delayed until the next day (change of date), the airline is required to offer hotel accommodation (including transport) if necessary. It also has to offer passengers telecommunication facilities.
If the flight is delayed by 5 hours or longer, and passengers decide not to wait any longer for their flight, the airline must also offer them a refund of their ticket price.
In accordance with Regulation (EC) 261/2004, airlines are not required to make compensation payments in the event of a delay. However, the European Court of Justice has pronounced rulings in the past stating that entitlement to payment of compensation may apply in the case of delayed arrival at the destination by at least 3 hours. If the delay is attributable to extraordinary circumstances, the passengers are not entitled to payment of compensation. Due to the lack of a legal basis, the FOCA is unable to fine an airline for failure to pay compensation in the event of a delay.