ECJ ruling on Van der Lans V KLM – airline industry could face compensation pay outs in the region of €400 million per year

At last we can bring a close to the story of Van der Lans V KLM.  Today the European Court of Justice announced their ruling on the case saying:

‘Article 5(3) of Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 February 2004 establishing common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding and of cancellation or long delay of flights, and repealing Regulation (EEC) No 295/91 must be interpreted as meaning that a technical problem, such as that at issue in the main proceedings, which occurred unexpectedly, which is not attributable to poor maintenance and which was also not detected during routine maintenance checks, does not fall within the definition of ‘extraordinary circumstances’ within the meaning of that provision.’

Shock for airlines

This news will come as a huge shock for airlines who have tactically used the Van der Lans V KLM case as a reason to slow the flight delay compensation process to a standstill.  You may remember that earlier this year a judge in Liverpool County Court threw out applications by Jet2, Ryanair, Flybe and Wizz Air to keep claims on hold until the Van der Lans V KLM was decided. He said cases should be settled in line with existing passenger-rights rules contained within EC Reg 261/2004. The Civil Aviation Authority also said that there was no reason for airlines to place claims on hold and that it expected them to pay passengers the compensation they are due. And now the ECJ have given their response.

Airlines hiding behind ‘Extraordinary Circumstances’

We know that extraordinary circumstances has been an airline’s only defence against paying out flight delay compensation.  We are pleased that the ECJ ruled in favour of Van der Lans, and believe it is time that airlines adhered to EC Regulation 261/2004 and stopped trying to wriggle out of paying air passengers compensation for the inconvenience of their delay.   

Back log in flight delay compensation pay outs

We took a look at some of the figures, as an estimate the back log in compensation pay outs could be in the region of €400 million per year.  This is based on all flights in 2014 from or to UK that were delayed, not cancelled, and allowing an average of x 130 seats x €400 per passenger.

We hope the airlines take notice, and pay the compensation that is due to delayed passengers. They surely can’t have any more excuses up their sleeves?

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