Court rules passengers can claim for flight delays for up to 6 years, not just 2 years
Airline loses flight delays appeal
An airline passenger has won his case at at the Court of Appeal over flight delays, despite waiting six years to bring a case against the airline.
The court rejected an appeal by Thomson Airways against an earlier county court decision to award James Dawson £1,488.73.
Thomson argued Mr Dawson’s claim fell outside a two-year time limit.
Legal experts said the ruling could lead to more than 11 million passenger claims and cost airlines up to £4bn.
Mr Dawson’s solicitors said the judgement meant that airline passengers now had six years to bring a flight delay claim in England and Wales.
In a statement, the firm said it had “hundreds of litigated cases which have been stayed pending the outcome of the Dawson case, and thousands more ready to issue proceedings”.
The claim by Mr Dawson, from Peterborough, was brought over a delay to a flight from London’s Gatwick airport to the Dominican Republic in December 2006.
His flight was held up by a crew shortage caused by sickness and the flight eventually arrived at its destination more than six hours late.
Mr Dawson sought to recover 600 euros per person from the airline, which is payable as compensation for a flight of that length under European Union regulations.
The EU regulation does not stipulate a time limit for compensation to be claimed, leaving it up to national governments to set time limits. In the case of the UK, the courts have interpreted this to mean that the six-year statute of limitations rule applies.
But the airline argued that a separate regulation known as the Montreal Convention applied.
The convention, which is also law in the UK, sets a two-year time limit for compensation claims, but crucially does not limit the amount of compensation that can be awarded.
As a result, the legal argument centred on whether Mr Dawson’s claim had to be brought within the two-year Montreal Convention set limit or the six-year limit statute of limitations.
Mr Dawson began proceedings in December 2012, just before the six-year period elapsed.
Thomson accepted it would have been liable to pay Mr Dawson compensation, but argued his claim was “out of time”.
It is the second court case in a week over flight delays, after the Court of Appeal found in favour of a passenger over a flight delay.
Ronald Huzar, whose flight arrived 27 hours late, won a compensation fight with an airline which said the delay was caused by “extraordinary circumstances”.
Mr Huzar said he was entitled to compensation under EU regulations after suffering “no little inconvenience” when his flight from Malaga, Spain, to Manchester left a day late in October 2011.
But Jet2.com bosses claimed an exemption, claiming the problem which caused the delay – a technical fault on an airliner – was unforeseeable and amounted to an “extraordinary circumstance”.
Thomson ruling could lead to ‘higher airfares’
Travellers can now claim compensation from flight delays up to six years ago, after a landmark court ruling today.
In the case Dawson V Thomson Airways the court ruled in favour of traveller James Dawson, who was denied compensation for his delayed flight to Dominican Republic in 2006, because he failed to bring the claim within two years.
The Court of Appeal, dismissed Thomson Airways’ appeal, which had argued that airlines are governed by the Montreal Convention that gives passengers only two years to make a claim.
Thomson has warned the decision could result in higher airfares for travellers.
Under EU law passengers delayed for more than three hours are entitled up to €600 compensation.
It’s estimated passengers on almost 60,000 flights delayed flights over the 2009 – 2011 period are potentially entitled to compensation.
Package holiday firm Thomson has warned that today’s judgment could lead to higher air fares.
In a statement, it said: ”As the UK’s most on-time holiday airline, at Thomson Airways our focus continues to be ensuring that our customers reach their destination safely and promptly.
“We believe that it is reasonable to expect that those who perceive they have suffered a real loss as a result of an unfortunate delay should be able to make their claim within two years.
“We also continue to believe that the law stipulates this and we are therefore surprised by today’s judgment.
“If unchallenged, this judgment could have a significant impact on the entire airline industry and specifically upon the price that all air travellers would need to pay for their flights. We therefore confirm that it is our intention to seek an appeal to the Supreme Court.”
The announcement follows a decision last week in a case involving Jet2.com, in which the Court of Appeal ruled a technical fault which causes a delay could not be classed as an “extraordinary circumstance”, and carriers would still have to pay compensation.
This means that from now on, airlines can only cite technical faults as a reason for not paying compensation, if the fault was originally caused by an event that was “out of the ordinary”.
Ruling: Jet2 were unsuccessful in their appeal against a court ruling that could pave the way for millions to claim flight delay compensation.
Passengers denied payouts for flight delays caused by technical faults CAN have their case reviewed, regulator says
By ADAM UREN (This is Money)
Passengers denied compensation by airlines for lengthy flight delays caused by technical faults can have their case retrospectively reviewed in the wake of a landmark court case, the UK’s air regulator has said.
The Civil Aviation Authority has said that passengers can ask airlines to review their compensation claims in the wake of a Court of Appeal ruling last week that states airlines cannot reject claims for delays of longer than three hours caused by technical defects.
It followed Jet2 denying passenger Ron Huzar compensation when his flight from Manchester to Malaga was delayed by 27 hours because of a wiring defect.
The case could open the door to hundreds of thousands of claims for up to €600 being submitted by passengers previously turned down by airlines.
However, Jet2 has already announced its intention to appeal again against the decision, this time by taking it to the Supreme Court, and the CAA has warned that airlines might delay processing claims until the outcome of that case.
A CAA statement said: ‘The Court of Appeal ruled that ordinary technical problems that cause flight disruption, such as component failure and general wear and tear, should not be considered “extraordinary circumstances”.
‘This means that airlines can only cite technical faults as a reason for not paying compensation if the fault was originally caused by an event that was “out of the ordinary”.
‘So technical faults such as a part on the aircraft failing before departure will generally not be considered extraordinary circumstances.
‘However, claims that have already been decided by a court cannot be taken back to court unless they are within the time limit for an appeal.’
The CAA initially caused consternation among passenger representatives on Friday when they said that rejected claims could not be retrospectively reviewed in the wake of the Huzar case.
However, after checking the law again, it changed its stance.
A spokesman said: ‘The CAA apologises that our earlier advice was not clear. We will contact passengers who have previously sought our help to provide advice on the matter. The CAA will also provide guidance on the judgment to airlines.’