Bott and Co secured another victory for passenger rights in the ongoing battle to make airlines accountable for flight delays and to pay the compensation due to delayed travellers.
The latest win at Reading County Court came against Monarch Airlines who had refused to pay two Bott and Co clients £450 (€600) each for a five hour delay as they travelled back to Gatwick airport from Hurghada, Egypt in July 2014.
The Judge today ruled that the delay due to repairs following a lightning strike was not an extraordinary circumstance – the only defence an airline has for not paying compensation.
Flight Delay Compensation Law
European Regulation EU261/2004 requires airlines to pay up to €600 to passengers for delays over 3 hours long as compensation for their inconvenience and time, regardless of the cost of the flight ticket.
Airlines don’t have to pay flight delay compensation if the delay is caused by an extraordinary circumstance such as civil or political unrest, terrorism, or freak weather conditions such as the volcanic ash cloud.
However, Judge Clarke ruled in the case of Evans v Monarch Airlines Ltd today that a lightning strike is not a freak weather condition and is part of the normal running of an airline as they are designed to withstand lightning strikes.
The flight that was struck by lightning flying between Nice and Gatwick arrived safely and on time but had to undergo a number of maintenance checks and a minor repair before taking off again – which caused the five hour delay in getting to Hurghada.
Flight Compensation Court Victory
In court Bott and Co argued that “Aircraft fly through the skies. On occasion they are struck by lightning. They are designed to withstand such lightning strikes, continue flying, reach their destination and then be investigated and repaired according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This is not extraordinary”.
Her Honour Judge Melissa Clarke agreed and ruled in favour of Bott and Co’s clients Michael Evans and Julie Lee awarding them €600 each for the delay – the maximum compensation amount based on the distance travelled and the length of the flight delay.
The Judge also discredited the NEB list of extraordinary circumstances saying it was not legally binding and that the Civil Aviation Authority’s view on what should be considered extraordinary circumstances has often been ‘at odds’ with the courts.