In a decision of vital importance to airline passengers and the industry which carries them, the Court of Appeal has effectively extended by four years the time within which passengers can claim compensation for flight delays.
A passenger had sued a leading airline after his flight to the Dominican Republic was delayed by six hours due to crew shortages caused by sickness. He was awarded £1,488.73 damages by a judge. The case was viewed as raising a vital point of principle for the air carriage industry and the airline appealed.
It was submitted that the passenger’s claim should have been struck out, having been brought outside the two-year time limit laid down the Montreal Convention, which governs the liability of air carriers. However, in dismissing the appeal, the Court found that the claim fell outside the convention and that a six-year time limit therefore applied under Section 9 of the Limitation Act 1980.
After the Court’s decision was announced, the passenger’s solicitor greeted the ruling as a ‘huge victory for consumers’ which would have a profound impact on the rights of hundreds of thousands of air passengers on a yearly basis.