Test case could see delayed Ryanair passengers claim up to £610m in compensation. Let's hope so.
More than 2.3m passengers could be able to claim for delays depending on the outcome of a test case at Manchester County Court.
The case - brought by two passengers - aims to ensure compensation can be claimed within six years of a flight.
But budget airline Ryanair says they should only have to pay within two.
It is likely all other courts in England and Wales will follow the case’s decision - meaning that if Ryanair loses, it could face potential claims from more than 2m passengers.
The case revolves around two passengers who travelled on the same delayed flight in 2009. Both are from abroad, but many key aviation cases are heard in Manchester.
Flight regulation entitles passengers to claim compensation of up to £440 each for delays of three hours or more, so long as it was not caused by ‘extraordinary circumstances’.
Ryanair argues that by accepting its terms and conditions when they buy a ticket, passengers agree they only have two years to take a claim to court.
However the Supreme Court ruling in a previous case, Dawson v Thomson Airways, clarified passengers in England and Wales have SIX years to take a claim to court in October 2014.
Ryanair is now defending its position in court - insisting their passengers waive their right to the six-year limit.
The decision stands to affect around 2.26million passengers and potentially total around £610m in compensation, calculated on the basis that 2pc of flights on average are delayed.
Kevin Clarke flight delay lawyer at Bott & Co, which is defending the passengers, said: “The last 12 months have seen a series of landmark judgments obtained by Bott & Co on behalf of millions of passengers and this case is as important as any of those that precede it.
“We fully expect the airlines to continue to fight cases such as this one but we are prepared to hold them to account in each and every instance where the law says compensation is payable. We look forward to hearing the Judge’s decision so we can assess what our next steps will be.”
A Ryanair spokesman said: “Ryanair does not comment on pending legal matters, deals with each claim on a case by case basis and fully complies with all EU261 legislation.”
The ruling has been reserved for two weeks.
What is flight delay compensation and Regulation EC 261/2004?:Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 provides compensation for passengers in the event their flight is cancelled, delayed, re-routed or they miss their connection.
Passengers are entitled to claim if they reach their final destination three hours or more after the
scheduled arrival time and can be entitled to up to €600 per passenger. The flight in question must be leaving an EU country or landing in an EU country on an EU airline.
The compensation payable is a fixed amount based on the flight distance and length of the delay and is to compensate you for your loss of time and inconvenience, not the ticket price.
The regulation also makes provisions for the airline to provide care at the airport by way of refreshments, food, telephone calls and if appropriate, overnight stays.
The airline has one defence to compensation claims – ‘extraordinary circumstances’. Examples of these are political instability, meteorological conditions incompatible with the operation of the flight concerned, security risks, unexpected flight safety shortcomings and industrial action.