For a while now, Airlines not registered as an EU Carrier have felt that the European compensation rules do not apply to them when a flight starts in the EU, but the delay happens outside the EU.  The Civil Aviation Authority has always been clear and has joined forces on a recent Court of Appeal hearing to reassert the regulations.  The Regulation says that if you commence a flight in an EU country and arrive more than three hours late at your final destination, then compensation is due.

For example, if a family of four were to book a flight to Bangkok with Emirates, leaving from Heathrow and arriving on the first leg of the flight at Abu Dhabi then if this flight is delayed and that they miss their connecting flight then compensation is due. The only defence can be that the delay is due to extraordinary circumstances.

Flight Delay Pay – Extraordinary Circumstances Article

Flight Delay Compensation – Extraordinary Circumstances explained

In the above example, compensation would be calculated as follows:

Up to three hours late – Eur 300 per passenger being Eur 1,200 in total
Over four hours late – Eur 600 per passenger being Eur 2,400 in total

Prior to the current Court of Appeal ruling airlines such as Turkish Airways, Emirates and Etihad had contended that if the delay had occurred outside the EU it was therefore not subject to EU regulations.

The Civil Aviation Authority has now written to leading Non EU Airlines asking them to accept the ruling and to commence offering compensation.

The test case is known as Gahan v Emirates which was joined together with another similar case called Buckley v Emirates.  In the first case Miss Gahan was booked to fly from Manchester to Bangkok but arrived fours late in Dubai and had to catch the next flight which meant an overall delay of 13 hours and 37 minutes. This decision was reached on 13th October 2017.

Civil Aviation Chief Executive is quoted by the CAA website as follows:

“This ruling sends a clear message to Emirates and the other airlines that have used protracted legal processes to prolong their refusal to give consumers their legal entitlement”

“Any flight disruption is frustrating but delays that cause passengers to miss a connecting flight have a particularly damaging effect on people’s travel plans”.

“For a family of four this compensation could be worth as much as €2,400 and we will not hesitate to take further action if airlines fail to comply.”

The ruling of the Appeal court confirms the findings of the Court of European Justice which ruled that where more than one flight is taken then the flights must be taken together when assessing whether or not the delay is greater than three hours.

For compensation to be due the following must apply:

  • the flights must be on a single ticket and one reservation for the entire journey
  • the cause of you missing the connecting flight must be within the control of the Airline.
  • the delay must be more than three hours at the final destination being the destination of the last in the series of flights.
  • the delay must not be due to extraordinary circumstances.

The Civil Aviation Authority has taken enforcement action over this issue with five leading Non EU airlines and have written since February to the following Airlines:

  • American Airlines
  • Emirates
  • Etihad
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Turkish Airlines

as they have consistently failed to pay compensation for delays of over three hours when this involved a missed connection.

It is hoped that this ruling will help persuade the above and other Airlines to honour their legal obligation and respond to customers’ claims in a proactive fashion.

Richard Moriaty, Director of Consumers and Markets at the Civil Aviation Authority commented in February 2017:

“Any disruption to a flight is frustrating for passengers, but delays that cause people to miss connecting flights have a particularly damaging effect on people’s travel plans. That’s why there are clear laws in place to make sure passengers that experience this type of disruption are looked after by their airline and compensated when the disruption was in the airline’s control.

“Airlines’ first responsibility should be looking after their passengers, not finding ways in which they can prevent passengers upholding their rights. So it’s disappointing to see a small number of airlines continuing to let a number of their passengers down by refusing to pay them the compensation they are entitled to. Where we see evidence of passengers systematically being denied their rights, we will not hesitate to take the necessary action to ensure airlines change their policies and their customers get the assistance they are entitled to.”

A spokesperson for Flight Delay Pay commented,:

“ This is good news for passengers who have often been left without their rightful compensation we stand ready to assist any passenger who has not received their rightful compensation in the last six years”

Source: www.caa.co.uk/News/CAA-s-enforcement-action-reaffirmed-by-Court-of-Appeal-ruling-in-latest-victory-for-consumers/

Update – 29th March, 2018

On 13th October Emirates lost in the Appeal court concerning a case where Passengers were arriving in Emirates hub airport in Dubai less than three hours late but still missing their connecting flight. Emirates and several other airlines had argued that a missed connection causing an eventual delay of more than three hours should not be subject to European flight legislation as the delay happened outside Europe. Emirates requested leave to appeal this decision to the Supreme court but this has been denied. The appeal was rejected because the case did not raise an arguable point of law.

The Civil Aviation Authority will now ensure Emirates change its policies and pay claims it had previously denied.

“Emirates’ priority should be looking after its passengers, not finding ways in which they can prevent passengers accessing their rights” . Andrew Haines CAA chief executive

“They have failed in their attempts to overturn the Court of Appeal Judgement, which now means that millions of pounds worth of compensation is due to its customers. It is time for Emirates to pay what is owed.”

This ruling is also applicable all long haul carriers based outside Europe who previously failed to pay EU261/2004 compensation such as Etihad, Turkish Airways.

If you have previously been denied compensation on the grounds that EU261/004 was not applicable to missed connections please get in touch provided you have booked both flights with the same airline under a single booking reference and the initial flight commenced in Europe.

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