Airlines braced for bumper claim payouts after appeal court ruling

 
Suzie Neuwirth
AIRLINES could have to pay out millions of pounds in compensation for flight delays caused by technical defects, after the Court of Appeal ruled in favour of a passenger who had brought a claim against budget carrier Jet2.com.

Ronald Huzar’s flight from Malaga to Manchester in 2011 was delayed for 27 hours, when faulty wiring on the plane interfered with a fuel circuit. He lost his initial case in June 2013, but won on appeal.

Under EU rules, airlines do not have to compensate passengers if lengthy flight delays were caused by extraordinary circumstances, such as extreme weather conditions. However, there is a grey area in the regulation on technical faults.

Jet2 is taking the dispute to the Supreme Court to try and overturn the ruling.

“[The] judgement is disappointing and could, if unchallenged, have a significant impact on the entire airline industry,” said a Jet2 spokesperson.

“[The] ruling will only cause further confusion for passengers and airlines, which is why we will continue to seek clarity and consistency by appealing directly to a higher court.”

Michael Fenn, partner at Pinsent Masons, warned that yesterday’s decision could open the floodgates to similar claims. “I expect that firms that deal with group litigation will now pursue class actions,” he told City A.M.

But Fenn added that a Supreme Court decision could take up to a year and a half. “I’d expect airlines to ask for similar cases to be suspended ahead of the Supreme Court’s ruling,” he said.