On Wednesday 11th June 2014 the judgement of the Jet2.com v Huzar case was announced to the public. The appeal decision had been looming for several months, during which it has generated much media attention. The news that everyone has been waiting to hear is the fact that the hearing was found to be in favour of Mr Huzar as Jet2.com lost their appeal. This is extremely encouraging news for passengers who use flight delay refunds companies such as Blueway Limited who will now put thousands of flight delay compensation claims for similar cases through the courts that refer to extraordinary circumstances. Mr Huzar’s claim arose due to a 27-hour flight delay that occurred whilst travelling from Malaga to Manchester on the 26th October 2011. Mr Huzar in fact was awarded compensation at the 2nd Court hearing in Manchester, however Jet2.com challenged this decision and requested for the case to be appealed.
Jet2.com were trying to claim that the faulty wiring of the fuel valve circuit was an ‘extraordinary circumstance’ – something that was unexpected, unforeseen and unforeseeable. They defended themselves time and again by stating that the delay could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken. The ‘extraordinary circumstance’ debate has caused much confusion when claiming compensation, as it is a grey area with little common knowledge on the rules surrounding it. The success of the Huzar case has left Jet2.com and other airlines with a conundrum of whether to pay the outstanding claims or risk being taken to court by companies such as Blueway Limited.
Jet2 have now announced that they will seek leave to appeal to the UK Supreme Courts in an attempt to delay matters yet again. The fact that this ‘test case’ was fully investigated through the courts resulting in a positive outcome favouring the passenger means that it should now rule out extraordinary circumstances as an excuse for technical problems or mechanical faults. Therefore, airlines should anticipate millions of passengers compensation claims to be submitted, potentially costing the airlines billions of pounds worth of compensation.
The Huzar case is not the only claim that has been heard recently through the Appeal Courts. The Thomson Airways v Dawson case (judgement to be announced soon) is another major threat to the airlines and if it follows on from the success of the Huzar case then the compensation bill facing the airlines will become potentially huge. The airlines are now having to face the realisation of the impact that these two court cases will bring. Hopefully it will be not just one but two legal victories for passengers, setting the guidelines for compensation claims both in the last 6 years and for years to come. As the regulations are becoming clearer, swaying more towards protecting passengers, airlines will have to meet their responsibilities as per the EC Regulation 261. Airlines need to understand that they cannot continue to push the blame onto technical problems or extraordinary circumstances. The rules are being clarified and so airlines need to face up to the truth and concentrate on passenger rights. Mr Huzar was absolutely delighted by the positive outcome of the appeal hearing and it has been a landmark court ruling. After the long haul that Mr Huzar has experienced he fully deserves the acknowledgement and the accreditation for putting up such a good fight.