European Court Upholds Air Passenger Compensation Regulations - Business Travel News

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European Court Upholds Air Passenger Compensation Regulations

October 26, 2012 - 11:05 AM ET

By Amon Cohen

The Court of Justice of the European Union this week upheld an earlier ruling that passengers whose flights are delayed by three hours or more are entitled to the same compensation as those whose flights are canceled. An EU regulation from 2004, commonly known as EC 261, dictates that such passengers are entitled to compensation of €250 to €600 depending on the length of the journey, unless the three-hour-plus delay or cancellation is caused by such extraordinary circumstances as extreme weather.

Deeply unpopular with airlines since its introduction, there have been numerous attempts by carriers to wriggle around their compensation obligations, which led to requests in 2010 for further clarification from the Local Court in Cologne and the High Court of Justice for England and Wales. The latest clarification and upholding of a previous ruling in 2009 confirms that EC 261 fulfills various principles of EU law, including equal treatment, legal certainty and proportionality, and that it is compatible with the global Montreal Convention, which governs aviation.

In addition, the Court ruled there should be no temporal restriction on its decision, paving the way for retrospective claims from air passengers.

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