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EU Court Rules Airlines Must Compensate for Delays, Cancellations

Flyers can now demand compensation of up to 600 euros from airlines even in cases of strike or delay, which until recently were exempt, according to a decision by Europe’s highest court.

According to the new European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling, airlines are obliged to recompense air passengers for flight delays and cancellations, even if a strike has previously been announced and on condition that the departure airport is within the EU, or that the flight is run by an EU-based carrier. Additionally, the airline should be responsible for the delay.

Compensation, meanwhile, must be sought within three years of the flight incident.

“Until now, airlines strikes of all kinds have been considered extraordinary circumstances that exempt airlines from their duty to pay compensation. Today, the European Court of Justice ruled that even an illegal airline staff strike does not constitute an extraordinary event. So from now on, airlines must compensate their passengers with up to 600 euros per person if they were affected by flight delays or cancellations due to strikes by airline staff,” said Christian Nielsen, head of legal at AirHelp.

“This decision significantly strengthens European passenger law. The airlines are now going to face a wave of claims, as this ruling also applies to all previous strikes, the statute of limitation being the only barrier,” said Nielsen.

Legal experts Airhelp recently found that 92 percent of American flyers do not know their air passenger rights with 77 percent not filing a claim despite suffering a disrupted flight thus leaving behind 6 billion dollars worth in compensation unclaimed every year.

In view of the ECJ ruling, which applies to all flights under EU law – airlines will have to pay when strikes are their responsibility.

“Therefore, we at AirHelp will reopen thousands of closed cases of this kind and enforce the claim for compensation of our customers with the responsible airlines,” said Nielsen.

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