Bott and Co’s Flight Delay Compensation team are pleased to announce another win for delayed passengers in their latest Court victory: A Judge has ruled that ‘bird strikes’ are not one of the extraordinary circumstances airlines can use as a defence against paying flight delay compensation.
The judgment was handed down today at Manchester County Court in the case of Ash V Thomas Cook Airlines. District Judge Iyer ruled in favour of Timothy Ash and his family, awarding the group of four passengers €1600 (approximately £310 each) for a delay of over 5 hours on a flight from Antalya to Manchester in 2011.
Here at Bott and Co we are of the firm belief that bird strikes should not be considered an extraordinary circumstance, but the Courts have previously ruled in favour of the airlines where the bird strike defence has been used.
For my part I observe that the word used is “extraordinary” rather than “unexpected”, “unforeseeable”, “unusual” or even “rare”. Extraordinary to me connotes something beyond unusual.
Because this was a ruling in a County Court and was not a test case, Ash V Thomas Cook Airlines is not binding on any other UK Courts, but we see this as a fantastic step in the right direction for consumers who are frequently told by airlines that they are not entitled to compensation, when in fact they are.
It is widely agreed that passengers cannot claim for acts of terrorism or sabotage, extreme weather conditions, civil unrest, hidden manufacturing defects or industrial action – yet there has previously been confusion around claiming for delays caused by bird strikes.
Judge District Iyer stated that bird strikes cannot be considered extraordinary because they happen several times a day. He said:
“For my part I observe that the word used is “extraordinary” rather than “unexpected”, “unforeseeable”, “unusual” or even “rare”. Extraordinary to me connotes something beyond unusual. A motorway collision between two cars on a motorway is unusual but not extraordinary, whereas a motorway collision between a car, and say, a horse would be extraordinary.”
“Bird strikes happen every day, in fact many times a day, and would hardly be worthy of comment but for the delay which they cause. They do not fall within the same category as a motorway collision between a car and my previous example of a horse, which would be extraordinary for the simple reason that our skies are populated with birds, whereas our roads are not populated with horses.”
The Judge also noted that bird strikes are so common that Manchester Airport uses a hawk to prevent other birds from straying into its airspace.
Timothy Ash who was travelling with his wife, daughter and son when they suffered the delay said:
“I’m just relieved justice has been done. I had my disabled son with me at the time of the delay and it turned into a really arduous experience that could have been avoided.”