The Supreme Court has blocked appeal applications from Thomson and Jet2 in two landmark flight delay compensation cases, which ultimately means the doors are open for millions of passengers to make compensation claims against airlines.
The rulings in the cases of Huzar V Jet2 and Dawson V Thomson, which were delivered on Friday, have set a ‘binding precedent’ and have now essentially become law.
The Huzar ruling says that airlines must now pay compensation for qualifying delays caused by technical problems as these are not considered an ‘extraordinary circumstance’ under European Union regulation EU261.
Previously passengers were entitled to compensation if a flight was delayed by more than three hours, unless the delay was caused by an ‘extraordinary circumstance’.
The delay to Mr Huzar’s flight was caused by a wiring defect in a fuel valve circuit and it was successfully argued that technical faults were inherent in the running of an aircraft.
Passengers can now claim on the grounds of a technical problem and it has been estimated that 2.36 million passengers per year in England and Wales could benefit from the Huzar decision, equivalent to approximately £876 million in compensation.
The ruling in the Dawson V Thomson case means that passengers now have up to six years to make a claim rather than two and early estimates suggest around £3.8 billion could be paid out for historic claims.
Jet2 said the decision in favour of Mr Huzar could have a significant impact on the entire airline industry and that unexpected technical defects are ‘outside of the control of airlines’, so should be considered extraordinary for the purposes of compensation.
Thomson issued a statement following the ruling of Dawson V Thomson saying: “We believe that it is reasonable to expect that those who perceive they have suffered a real loss as a result of an unfortunate delay should be able to make their claim within two years. We are surprised and disappointed to note the decision of the Supreme Court as we believe our position is sound in law. We will now review this position based on the court’s decision.”
Had a delayed flight in the last six years? Our friends at flight delay compensation specialists EU Delay can help.