Last year, the Supreme court discarded Jet2 – the budget carrier’s contention that technical problems were extraordinary circumstances (Jet2.Com Limited Vs Huzar case). The judgement opened the way for billions of pounds to be paid to harassed fliers in flight delay and cancellation claims. But Jet2 was not satisfied and in open defiance of the Supreme Court ruling, it filed a case along with three other budget airlines – WizzAir, RyanAir and Flybe with the Liverpool County Court, seeking a stay on the Supreme Court order.
Their argument is, the CJEU has accepted an appeal (Van der Lans v KLM) to decide whether technical problems were extraordinary circumstances or not. The airlines are hoping that the Van der Lans case will give them relief. They are arguing that under the circumstances, unless that case is decided, it would not be right to ask them to pay flight delay refunds and compensation due to delays and cancellations caused by technical problems.
Passengers suffer while they wait for Jet2 delay news
For many passengers who rejoiced at the Supreme Court ruling, the airlines attempt to delay or altogether avoid paying them flight delay refunds or compensation has come as a damper and seems to be in bad taste. They are saying that the airlines’ attempts smack of disrespect to the Supreme Court’s order.
Flight delay refunds are a contentious issue in the UK where airline delays are routine and billions of pounds are pending in such claims. The Van der Lans is the airlines’ last hope and if that case goes against them, then the airlines will have no option but to give in. It may even send some of the smaller ones into bankruptcy. So it is clear why they are so eager to wait for the ruling.
What is the Van der Lans case important?
In the Van der Lans v KLM case, many analysts have said that the Dutch airline, KLM is fighting a losing battle and in the end, the case will go in favour of Van der Lans. But you never know how judges think and in case KLM manages to win the case, it will escape paying compensation altogether. As a ripple effect, UK’s budget airlines will also use the case and argue for the Supreme Court to recall its ruling.
In all this, the ordinary fliers are the one who suffer. They have been waiting for a long time to see justice (some as long as six years) and the airlines’ latest delaying tactics have only worsened the situation.
Everything depends on the Liverpool County Court now
The onerous and tasteless task of judging the issue has fallen on the Liverpool County Court now. If it gives a stay, then fliers will have to wait for at least 10 or more months to see results, because CJEU will take that much time at least to give a judgement on the Van der Lans case. Until then, fliers who have filed refund or compensation claims with the four budget airlines will not see any money. Another problem is, the Liverpool County Court is also expected to take a fair amount of time to deliberate the issue. Until then, the refund and compensation claims against Jet2 and other budget carriers cannot move ahead.
What the airlines are not willing to accept is, the ‘extraordinary circumstances’ defence does not hold if the issue that caused the delay is a part and parcel of running an airline. Technical problems come under this category. Aircraft parts will undergo wear and tear in time and there is no reason why technical problems caused by wear and tear should be considered extraordinary circumstances. Whatever the outcome, Jet2 and the other budget airlines have got a lifeline, if only for a few more months. We hope that they put it to good use by pulling together the money they have to pay their fliers. For more flight delay news and analysis, please visit our website regularly.