Judgment announced today by The European Court of Justice: A flight arrives when doors open

Judgment announced today by The European Courts of Justice (ECJ) on time of arrival will have dramatic effect on flight delay compensation says EUclaim

What constitutes flight arrival time?  ‘The actual arrival time of a flight corresponds to the time at which at least one of the doors of the aircraft is opened’ is the judgment passed today by the European Courts of Justice (ECJ) in answer to the question raised by Germany’s budget airline Germanwings.*

The decision will have an immense effect on airlines.  On average the time from landing (touchdown) to taxing to the gate where the chocks are applied through to when the aircraft door is opened can be anything from 20mins upwards, every airport is different and these times therefore can vary dramatically.  With arrival time now set at when the doors open these additional minutes will make a dramatic difference to journey time and could see airlines having to pay out hefty compensation to passengers for delayed flights.

The arrival time options discussed by the ECJ were:

  • the time that the aircraft lands on the runway (‘touchdown’);
  • the time that the aircraft reaches its parking position and the parking brakes are engaged or the chocks have been applied (‘in-block time’);
  • the time that the aircraft door is opened;
  • or a time defined by the parties in the context of party autonomy

*Read the judgment from the ECJ here

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