UK-based holiday specialist Thomas Cook has been ordered to pay £20,000 in compensation to 41 passengers who were delayed after their flight was grounded by Mexican authorities. It is reported that the flight was impounded as a result of not paying an air charge of US$200.
The ruling was passed by a judge in Manchester County. The ruling stated that Thomas Cook was expected to pay each of the 41 passengers a compensation of €600 (£487) after they were stranded in Cancun for two days as a result of the delay. The ruling also suggests that Thomas Cook maybe liable for executing a massive payout worth €450,000. This payout was announced after it was revealed that there is a possibility that around 750 passengers more may have been affected by the delay caused by the impounded plane.
History of the incident
Flight TCX325, which was scheduled to depart from Cancun at 5:30 pm on 1 December 2012 and arrive at Manchester Airport, was impounded by Mexican Authority SENEAM. This caused the flight to be delayed by 43 hours, causing major inconvenience to the passengers. The aircraft, an Airbus A330, is capable of carrying up to 400 passengers. This particular flight was scheduled to make two weekend runs from Cancun to the UK.
SENEAM complained that the airline had not paid a mandatory US$200 “Air Navigation Charge.” The failure in making the payment forced authorities to prevent the aircraft from taking off. Thomas Cook disputed SENEAM’s claims and stated that they had no pending payments or fees.
Representatives from Thomas Cook reported that they had tried to make the charge payment again to avoid further issues. However, Mexican authorities refused to accept the payment by cheque or cash. The air carrier was instructed to use a specific payment process that was not operational on weekends, leaving no room for other options until the beginning of the following week.
The aftermath of the incident
After the flight was grounded, passengers were transported to a hotel where they spent two nights. They returned to Manchester on 3 December 2012 at 2:20 am, making the delay last a total of 43 hours.
The judgment was passed on 12 May 2016 after an appeal hearing was held in March 2016. The judge awarded a compensation of £487.80 pounds to each passenger for the 43-hour delay. Thomas Cook has earlier refused to acknowledge the compensation outside of court, forcing passengers to take stern action. The judge mentioned in the ruling that the origin of the event was part of the usual activities exercised by the air carrier, which made it the air carrier’s responsibility.
The rules of the game
According to European Regulation EC 261/2004, passengers who have experienced flight delays that lasted three hours or more in the last six years are entitled to a compensation of €600. The only exception to this regulation is if the delay was caused by extraordinary circumstances such as extreme weather conditions. The regulation is applicable to EU flights that are traveling to and from EU countries.