Court paves way for 1.2m claims over missed con­nect­ing f lights

Scottish Daily Mail - - News - By James Salmon Trans­port Ed­i­tor

MORE than a mil­lion pas­sen­gers who en­dured lengthy de­lays after miss­ing their con­nect­ing flight could be in line for com­pen­sa­tion after a crush­ing le­gal blow against the air­line in­dus­try.

For years non-EU car­ri­ers in­clud­ing Emi­rates, Amer­i­can Air­lines, Eti­had, Sin­ga­pore Air­lines and Turk­ish Air­lines have wrig­gled out of pay­ing claims for de­layed flights by ex­ploit­ing a loop­hole in the law.

They say the EU leg­is­la­tion that en­ti­tles pas­sen­gers up to £540 (600 euros) com­pen­sa­tion doesn’t ap­ply to them be­cause their long-haul, con­nect­ing jour­neys are two flights, not one. So if pas­sen­gers miss their sec­ond flight from a non-EU air­port – such as Dubai or Sin­ga­pore – and are late to their fi­nal des­ti­na­tion as a re­sult, they are not en­ti­tled to a pay­out.

But yes­ter­day the air­lines suf­fered a bruis­ing de­feat as the Court of Ap­peal ruled against Emi­rates and agreed with the Court of Jus­tice of the EU that li­a­bil­ity for com­pen­sa­tion de­pends on the de­lay in ar­riv­ing at the ‘fi­nal des­ti­na­tion’.

The rul­ing could open the flood­gates to claims against the non-EU air­lines, leav­ing them on the hook for hun­dreds of mil­lions of pounds in com­pen­sa­tion.

The Civil Avi­a­tion Au­thor­ity says the rul­ing could ben­e­fit as many as 200,000 pas­sen­gers a year who ar­rive at their fi­nal des­ti­na­tion more than three hours late after miss­ing a con­nect­ing flight in a non-EU air­port. But the to­tal num­ber could be as high as 1.2mil­lion be­cause pas­sen­gers have up to six years to claim for a de­layed flight.

Rory Boland, travel ed­i­tor of con­sumer group Which?, said: ‘For air­lines that have been sidestep­ping the law for too long this judg­ment makes clear that they must play by the rules and pay pas­sen­gers the com­pen­sa­tion they are owed.’

Pas­sen­gers de­layed be­tween three and four hours are in line for £270, while com­pen­sa­tion rises to £540 for de­lays of four hours or more. This means a fam­ily of four could re­ceive as much as £2,160, and air­lines face pay­ing out be­tween £325mil­lion and £650mil­lion.

The CAA said it had asked Emi­rates to ac­cept the judg­ment. It has also writ­ten to Amer­i­can Air­lines, Eti­had and Sin­ga­pore Air­lines to en­sure they com­ply.

It said Turk­ish Air­lines had ‘worked con­struc­tively’ with the CAA and was com­pen­sat­ing pas­sen­gers.

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