Airlines have been warned they face a severe rise in the cost of delays following a recent European court judgment, with leisure carriers likely to be hardest hit and the impact passed on to passengers. European Court of Justice advocate general Yves Bot confirmed in mid-May that passengers suffering delays of three hours or more are entitled to compensation, confirming a European court decision of 2009.
Specialist lawyer Jo Kolatsis, of Gates and Partners, said: “This is going to be very expensive for carriers. It will place a financial and operational burden on airlines.”
EC Regulation 261/2004 on denied boarding, cancellation and delay, which came into force in 2005, left passengers without entitlement to compensation for delays. But a 2009 judgment, in the so-called Sturgeon case, changed that. Draft proposals for the revision are expected before the end of this year. Kolatsis warned: “It is going to cost a lot. They are incorporating everything into the proposals.”
Thomas Cook director of government relations and external affairs Andy Cooper said: “The leisure sector will suffer more from this. We can’t cancel a flight [to avoid a three-hour delay], unlike an airline like easyJet. If we pick up a delay it can roll over a day or two days.
“We know the intention [of the regulation] was not to give compensation for delays. We have to persuade the EC to act rationally.