Thousands of passengers can now claim compensation when flights are cancelled or delayed due to technical problems, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has ruled.
The landmark ruling in the case involving Dutch airline KLM means that airlines can no longer claim problems caused during or due to a lack of aircraft maintenance are “extraordinary circumstances”.
Now airlines are liable to pay compensation to passengers who suffer delays in such circumstances – and they can claim up to €600 under EU regulation 261 if a flight lands more than three hours late.
However, the phrase “extraordinary circumstances” still applies to flights affected by severe weather, strikes and political instability.
The ECJ has stated that as these situations cannot be reasonably avoided by airlines, then they do not have to pay compensation when they cause cancellations and delays.
“The airline must ensure the maintenance and proper functioning of all aircraft used for commercial activities. No component of an aircraft is indestructible; these situations are inherent in the normal operations of an airline,” said the court.
“Therefore, when a flight is cancelled due to unforeseen technical errors, the airline remains obliged to pay compensation to its passengers.”
Laura Thorpe, civil litigation specialist at PM Law, said: “There’s nothing worse than having a holiday ruined after being misled or losing out through delays and cancellations.
“When you pay for a holiday you have every right to receive exactly what you have paid for and if this falls short of your expectations, you may be able to claim compensation.
“The dedicated team at PM Law solicitors in Sheffield can give advice on the process and assist fully with compensation claims.”