LUXEMBOURG – Airlines are bracing themselves for a possible flood of lawsuits after the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that airlines can no longer use technical faults as a reason for refusing to pay compensation to delayed passengers.
Issuing judgment in a case against KLM, the court said unexpected technical problems can no longer be counted as an ‘extraordinary circumstance’.
EU rules say passengers delayed by at least three hours, or whose flights are cancelled, can claim up to €600 (about $672) each, except in the case of ‘extraordinary circumstances’ outside an airline’s control.
Airlines have argued that technical faults should be considered in this category, but the ECJ has now ruled this is not so. The ruling cannot be appealed.
The KLM case was brought by a passenger whose flight was delayed by 29 hours because of what the airline said were two faulty components on the aircraft.
KLM said the delay was out of its hands as the parts were within their recommended lifespan and the manufacturer hadn’t warned which defects may arise once the components reached a certain age.
However, the court said technical faults, even those caused by unexpected events, are inherent in the normal exercise of an airline’s activity.