Should the airlines be responsible for financially compensating passengers after the volcanic ash travel delay?

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(CNN) -- Recriminations are emerging in the wake of the volcanic ash crisis with airlines expressing anger over passenger compensation rules and demanding financial help for losses caused by what they say was a needless ban on flights.

Michael O'Leary, chief executive of budget carrier Ryanair, has led criticism of European Union regulations that require operators to feed and accommodate stranded passengers, saying his airline has only agreed to pay under duress.

"The events of the last seven days, under which Europe's airlines were prevented from flying by the closure of European airspace highlight how absurd and discriminatory the EU261 regulations are towards Europe's airlines," O'Leary said in a statement.

Ryanair, which sells some flights for less than $10 but charges for extras including baggage, earlier said it would reimburse claims up to the cost of tickets, but later backed down saying it would meet "reasonable" expenses.

European flights back to 100 percent

"While competitor ferry, coach and train operators are obliged to reimburse passengers reasonable expenses, this reimbursement is limited to the ticket price paid to those operators," O'Leary added.

"Yet the airlines are required by regulation to meet potentially unlimited expenses, in circumstances where there has been a catastrophic closure of European airspace over the past seven days, as EU Governments and Regulators wrongly applied a blanket ban on flights over European airspace."

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