Up to 750 more passengers were affected by the impounding and they are all entitled to €600 each (totalling €450,000 compensation)
- Mexican Authority SENEAM impounded a Thomas Cook aircraft in Cancun for two days, accusing the airline of failing to pay a $200 (MXN) air navigation charge
- Hundreds of passengers were stranded in Cancun for two days before the fee was paid
- According to European flight delay regulation EC 261/2004, passengers who have been delayed by three hours or more in the last six years may be entitled to up to €600 compensation
- But Thomas Cook refused to pay passengers the compensation they were entitled to, forcing the claimants to take their claim to court in the case of Lewis & Others v Thomas Cook
- Appeal court confirms that airlines have a responsibility to pay compensation, even if the delay is not the airline’s fault
- Aly Lewis and Others (41 passengers in total) were awarded £19,999.80 (€600 or £487.80 each)
- Flight delay compensation law firm Bott and Co Solicitors – who acted on behalf of Lewis and Others says ‘While a delay may not be an airline’s fault, the law says it is their responsibility.’
- Up to 750 more passengers were affected by the impounding and they are all entitled to €600 each (nearly half a million euros in unclaimed flight delay compensation.
- A JUDGE at Manchester County Court today (Tuesday 10th May) ordered Thomas Cook to pay £19,999.80 to passengers who were stranded in Cancun for two days when their plane was impounded by the Mexican government. The judgment was handed down today after an appeal hearing in March.
His Honour Judge Main awarded Aly Lewis & Others (41 passengers in total) £487.80 each for a 43 hour delay, after Thomas Cook refused to pay the group compensation outside of court.
In today’s ruling Judge Main said:
“The origin of the event here, a dispute over landing & navigation fees, was an event inherent in the normal exercise of the activities of an air carrier.”
Flight TCX325 from Cancun to Manchester Airport was scheduled to depart at 17:30 on Saturday 1st December 2012, but hundreds of passengers were delayed for 43 hours when Mexican Authority SENEAM impounded the aircraft.
The plane, an Airbus A330, carries 400 people at a time and should have made two journeys from Cancun to the UK that weekend. Flight delay lawyers Bott and Co Solicitors say that around 750 more people who were stranded in Cancun are also entitled to €600 each for the delays caused by the impounding, though they may not be aware of it.
SENEAM accused the airline of failing to pay a compulsory $200 (MXN) ‘air navigation charge’, preventing the aircraft from departing until the alleged outstanding fee was paid. The airline has dismissed the claim that there was any debt outstanding.
Thomas Cook representatives say they attempted to pay the fee to SENEAM when they were told the plane would not be allowed to fly, but that the Authority would not accept cash or cheque.
The airline was told it must use a payment process that was not in operation over the weekend, meaning the airline would not be able to pay until Monday morning.
Passengers were sent to a hotel for two nights, eventually arriving in Manchester at 2:20am on 3rd December 2012; 43 hours late.
Aly Lewis, an IT Training Consultant from Bristol, had been on holiday in Cancun with her husband Garton Lewis, an Engineer, when the delay took place.
Mrs Lewis said:
“It wasn’t a case of having two days’ extra holiday; it was impossible to relax because we had no idea how long we were going to be there. We kept getting told to check-out of the hotel, only to be told to check back in again after hours of waiting around. During all this time nobody would tell us why we were delayed or when we could go home.
“One Thomas Cook rep eventually told us the delay had been caused by weather, but then another told us it had been caused by a technical problem, when of course it was actually down to the Mexican Authorities impounding the plane.
“When we eventually got back home, trying to claim direct from Thomas Cook was awful. They ignored our first two letters, only replying after the third and fourth.
“They told us we weren’t entitled to compensation, so we contacted the CAA, who took just as long to reply. By the time we instructed Bott and Co, we’d spent a whole year getting nowhere fast.”
While she was still in Cancun Mrs Lewis set up the ‘Thomas Cook Tcx325 Epic Fail’ Facebook page which affected passengers have been using to exchange information and discuss claiming flight delay compensation.
41 of the passengers went on to enlist the help of flight delay compensation law firm Bott and Co Solicitors, who secured today’s court victory for the group.
Each passenger was awarded €600 each (£487.80).
Bott and Co flight delay lawyer Coby Benson, who acted on behalf of Lewis & Others said:
“This case illustrates perfectly the lengths that people have to go through in order to secure compensation. After all of that time and effort going through the airline and the CAA, the Lewis group still had to seek help from lawyers to get the money they were entitled to.
“The airline may say that this delay was not its fault, but that is missing the intention of the Regulation; while a delay may not be an airline’s fault, the law says it is their responsibility.
“The Regulation is designed to protect passengers – it tells the airlines that in the event they have to pay compensation they should pursue any other organisation if they believe it to be ultimately responsible.
“The correct course of action would have been to pay these passengers immediately and then discuss the matter with the Mexican Authorities if they really felt they were to blame, rather than involving so many people in lengthy court proceedings.”
According to European Regulation EC 261/2004, air passengers who were delayed by three hours or more in the last six years may be entitled to up to €600 as long as their delay was not caused by ‘extraordinary circumstances’. The law applies to flights departing an EU country or landing in an EU country on-board an EU airline.
Notes to Editor
- SENEAM is a Mexican Government Office under the control of the Ministry of Communication and Transport. It provides services in Mexico including air traffic control and provision of meteorological information. Their fees are air navigation fees for overflight and/or landing in Mexico.
- To date (10/05/2016) Bott and Co has recovered over £17.5 million in flight delay compensation for more than 52,000 passengers.
- Bott and Co are a law firm and NOT a claims management company. In that respect we are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and can issue court proceedings, where claims management companies cannot.