Judges have today ruled in the airline industry’s favour at the highest court in Europe, the Court of Justice of the European Union, in a case relating to whether flight delays caused by bird strikes are claimable under EU Regulation 261/2004.
Judges handed down the verdict in Luxembourg at 9:30am GMT for the Czech bird strike case of Marcela Pešková, Jiří Peška v Travel Service A.S.
In 2016, Czech courts asked the Court of Justice to determine whether, for the purposes of Regulation 261/2004, damage suffered by planes as a result of bird strikes resulting in delays or cancellations can be treated as ‘extraordinary circumstances’ and therefore ineligible for compensation under EU rules.
Today’s decision that bird strikes are extraordinary will be legally binding throughout Europe and will hold precedent in UK cases.
Thousands of air travellers throughout Europe have had their claims placed on hold pending the outcome of today’s ruling. This judgment casts doubt over whether those passengers will be entitled to compensation for their lengthy delays.
This is not the decision we were hoping for, but nonetheless it is clarity from the highest court in Europe.
This ruling states that bird strikes are extraordinary, despite Bott and Co, previously winning numerous claims in favour of passengers in the English courts.
Coby Benson, flight delay legal expert at Bott and Co, the firm renowned for clarifying this area of law for consumers in the UK, said: “This is not the decision we were hoping for, but nonetheless it is clarity from the highest court in Europe who have found that bird strikes are an extraordinary circumstance.
“We are particularly disappointed because we have a track record of winning bird strike cases in the UK, even to appeal level. We’ll be taking a long look at this judgment in the coming days to work out the best course of action for our clients and all UK passengers.”