There has been recently speculation as to whether a Flight Delay Technical Problem can be classified as an extraordinary circumstance or not. An extraordinary circumstance is anything out of the airline’s control, meaning that no compensation is granted to passengers. The classic examples include extreme weather conditions, security issues and political factors. Technical failures have been harder to distinguish when dealing with Flight Delay Compensation Claims. But in October 2012, the European Court of Justice ruled that delays caused by events such as lack of flight crew or even technical faults, merited compensation. A technical failure is without a doubt an extraordinary circumstance but once the technical failure has been identified then it is within the airline’s full responsibility to resolve it. If a delay is therefore due to the airline’s inability to do so then this is within the airline’s control, meaning that the passengers could be entitled to make Flight Delay Compensation Claims.
By law engineers have to check the aircraft (following certain guidelines) and sometimes these engineers will overrun. If a plane cannot leave on time then this has a serious knock on effect for the following scheduled flights. Single flight delays can cause a much longer flight delay for the succeeding flights. It is expected that airlines have contingency plans and should be prepared for when a technical failure occurs, when in actual fact they do not have the capacity to cope in such situations.
One recent case currently being investigated will open a can of worms if the solicitors win on the passenger’s behalf. Mr Huzar commenced proceedings against airline Jet2.com after his flight from Manchester to Malaga was delayed for an excess of 27 hours. The delay was due to a technical failure that was traced to a problem with the fuel shut-off valve along with defective wiring of the shut-off valve circuit. In relation to technical defects, the airline carrier must meet both the inherency test and the reasonable measures test in order for the defect to classify as an extraordinary circumstance. If not, then compensation must be issued.
Mr Huzar won the case as it was said that a delay caused by the resolution of an unexpected, unforeseen and unforeseeable technical issue cannot be seen an extraordinary circumstance, given the Wallentin test (the Wallentin case of Friederike Wallentin-Hermann versus Alitalia outlined that a technical failure cannot classify as an extraordinary circumstance). Jet2.com have appealed the Huzar case and so the hearing will commence in May 2014. The verdict of this hearing will open the floodgates for an abundant amount of similar cases regarding a Flight Delay Technical Problem and even Flight Delay Compensation due to Weather as airlines often blame weather for a lot of their technical failures. The courts will hear one case for each excuse and then all of the similar cases concerning United Airlines Flight Delay Compensation that are currently on hold will follow on from this decision. Once the decision on this test case has been made, the ‘grey area’ concerning technical failures should be much clearer.