• Passengers of non-EU airlines who miss connecting flights outside EU can claim compensation, following Court of Appeal ruling
  • CAA intervened in Court of Appeal case to help protect consumers' rights and believes this ruling now provides clarity for both consumers and airlines
  • CAA has now written to Emirates calling on the airline to be good to its word and accept the judgment as a definite resolution of the issue
  • Court ruling reaffirms CAA decision to take enforcement action earlier this year against five major non-EU airlines for failure to comply with missed connections law

The UK Civil Aviation Authority welcomes a ruling by the Court of Appeal, which clarifies that passengers flying with a non-EU airline are entitled to compensation if a flight departing from the UK* is delayed by at least three hours at the final destination, as a result of a missed connection outside Europe.

The Court of Appeal reached its judgment in the joined cases of Gahan v Emirates and Buckley v Emirates, in which the CAA was an intervener, today, 11 October 2017. In handing down its judgment:

  • The Court of Appeal agreed with the Court of Justice of the European Union view that liability for compensation for delay depends on the delay in arriving at the 'final destination'.  Where more than one flight is taken to reach the final destination, the flights are taken together for the purpose of assessing whether there has been a 3 hour or more delay.
  • The Court of Appeal said that Article 7 of EC 261/2004 (which sets out the right to compensation) applies to non-Community carriers in respect of flights to their final destination.

The ruling means passengers of non-EU airlines, who had experienced a delay on the first leg of a flight, which caused them to miss a connecting flight and, as a result, arrived at their final destination at least three hours late can claim compensation of up to €600 euros whether the final destination is within or outside the EU.

The Court's decision confirms the CAA's interpretation of EC 261/2004 and reaffirms its decision to take enforcement action against five major airlines in February this year, for refusing to pay compensation in these instances.  We are pleased to say that Turkish Airlines has since worked constructively with the CAA and is now compensating passengers for missed connections.

The CAA has written to Emirates and asked the airline to be good to its word and accept the Court of Appeal judgment.  We have also written to the other three airlines, American Airlines, Etihad and Singapore Airlines, to ensure they comply with the ruling immediately.  

Following the ruling, Andrew Haines, Chief Executive of the CAA, said: “The Court of Appeal's ruling could not be clearer and is fantastic news for passengers, who can now demand airlines pay them the compensation they are entitled to when they miss a connecting flight. 

“This ruling sends a clear message to Emirates and the other airlines that have used protracted legal processes to prolong their refusal to give consumers their legal entitlement.

“Any flight disruption is frustrating but delays that cause passengers to miss a connecting flight have a particularly damaging effect on people's travel plans. 

“For a family of four this compensation could be worth as much as €2,400 and we will not hesitate to take further action if airlines fail to comply.”

Notes to Editors

  • The support passengers are entitled to during disruption - including information about their rights and financial compensation - is set out in European Commission Regulation EC261/2004.
  • European guidelines on passenger rights during disruption are clear that the final destination of a connecting flight is the last airport listed on the passenger's ticket.
  • *The Court of Appeal ruling is binding in the UK and supports the application of the CJEU ruling in the Folkerts case to non-EU airlines.
  • Passengers experiencing delays who think they are entitled to compensation may be able to refer their complaint to an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service, which can provide an independent and binding decision on their case. Details of which airlines are signed up to ADR bodies are available here. Passengers of airlines not in ADR schemes can refer their complaint to the CAA.
  • The CAA is the UK's specialist civil aviation regulator. Its activities include: making sure that the aviation industry meets the highest technical and operational safety standards; preventing holidaymakers from being stranded abroad or losing money because of tour operator insolvency; planning and regulating all UK airspace; and regulating airports, air traffic services and airlines and providing advice on aviation policy.

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