Monday, 23 June 2014

UK Court Case Could Cost Airlines Millions.

Fourteen words said in a London court last week could make your future flight tickets £5 or £10 more expensive!

"This appeal is dismissed and leave to appeal to the Supreme Court is refused."

Those 14 words have established a legal precedent that could cost airlines millions of pounds – and affect your future travels, reports travel journalist Simon Calder. 

In October 2011, Mr Huzar was booked on a Jet2 flight from Manchester to Malaga. A faulty fuel valve meant he and the other passengers eventually arrived in Spain 27 hours late.

Now, every departure from an EU airport, and any flight by an EU airline worldwide, is covered by European passenger-rights legislation known as EC261. The airline must provide accommodation and meals as appropriate, as Jet2 did in this case. When the European law came into effect in 2005, cash compensation was stipulated only for cancellation and overbooking – not for delayed flights. But five years ago, the European Court of Justice ruled that passengers deserved payouts for any flight that arrives more than three hours late: €250 for short hops under 1,500km (e.g. across the Irish Sea), €400 for flights of 1,500-3,500km (such as Mr Huzar's Manchester to Malaga trip), and €600 for longer hauls – though just €300 for a three- to four-hour delay.

The only defence against paying out is "extraordinary circumstances". If ash clouds, absent air-traffic controllers or Amazonian-grade thunderstorms wreak havoc with schedules, no compensation applies. Many airlines, including Jet2, have also rejected claims due to technical defects. But Mr Huzar refused to give up. He took the airline to court, and lost the case, but then appealed to Manchester County Court and won. Jet2 appealed against that verdict, but this week the Appeal Court agreed that mechanical faults comprise an inherent element of running an airline and cannot be used as an excuse.

As we emerged from the court, Mr Huzar told me: "This is just recompense at the end of the day." Jet2 described the judgment as "disappointing" and said it could "have a significant impact on the entire airline industry". The carrier is now appealing directly to the Supreme Court, despite law lord Elias's line.

Read the full article in The Independent. 
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