Irish airlines silent in face of compensation threat

Irish airlines remained tight-lipped yesterday after a decision by the EU’s top court threw up a potential multimillion euro compensation claim threat.
Irish airlines silent in face of compensation threat

The fresh EU Court of Justice ruling has beefed up air passenger rights and allows employers of business travellers, who have been left in the lurch by delayed flights, to claim compensation from airlines.

Air carriers can’t avoid paying for losses suffered by employers, the EU Court of Justice said in a binding judgment yesterday morning, referring to the Montreal Convention, an international treaty that covers air travel.

“The concept of consumer” under the convention “may include persons who are not themselves carried and are therefore not passengers,” the Luxembourg-based EU court ruled.

While not explicitly saying it, the convention “must be interpreted as being applicable not only to the damage suffered by a passenger, but also to the damage suffered by a person in its capacity as an employer.”

The case is the latest in a long line of rulings on airlines’ obligations when schedules aren’t met. The EU court has clarified in previous cases that passengers who arrive “three hours or more after the scheduled arrival time” have a right to compensation, except in “extraordinary” circumstances.

The court in a 2013 decision said the same applies in the case of connecting flights where passengers arrive at least three hours late at their final destination.

The ruling stems from a case involving an Air Baltic flight which delayed two business travellers 14 hours.

Part of Ryanair’s lauded ‘Always Getting Better’ customer service improvement drive was the airline’s push — via its ‘Business Plus’ initiative — to become a leading choice for European business travellers.

At the time of its launch, in 2014, the airline’s management targeted 30% of its customer base to be made up of corporate travellers by 2019.

Its percentage of business users is already around that figure. All Ryanair said yesterday was that it continues to “fully comply” with EU legislation and that 90% of its flights arrive on time. Aer Lingus refused to comment.

* Additional reporting by Bloomberg

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