Airlines must compensate passengers for post-strike delays


THE European Court of Justice has ruled that airlines must compensate passengers who suffer delays that occur more than a day after a strike.

Image courtesy Finnair

A case in point was a passenger whose Finnair flight was delayed, two days after a strike at Barcelona airport in 2006. Under the circumstances, the EU court ruled that the situation was comparable to a denied boarding even as the airline argued it was the result of a strike to clear the backlog. No compensation is applicable only if the delay occurred on the same day of the strike.

The Court said: “The occurrence of extraordinary circumstances – such as a strike – resulting in an air carrier rescheduling subsequent flights does not give grounds for denying boarding or for exempting that carrier from its obligation to compensate passengers denied boarding on those later flights,”

It is good news for passengers but bad news for airlines, particularly those which are prone to prolonged strike action by their staff or agencies. It is fair that airlines should be made aware that there is a cost to not delivering their contractual obligations as the EU continues to engage in an ongoing battle to promote the rights of passengers. But the challenge has always been one of interpretation and implementation.



About David Leo
David Leo has more than 30 years of aviation experience, having served in senior management in one of the world's best airlines and airports. He continues to maintain a keen interest in the business, writes freelance and provides consultancy services in the field.

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