EU Passengers Hit By Airline Strikes Can Make Claims: Court

EU passengers hit by airline strikes can make claims: court

Brussels, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 23rd Mar, 2021 ) :Passengers whose flights are cancelled or delayed because of a strike by staff of an airline serving EU airports can claim compensation, the European Court of Justice ruled on Tuesday.

The verdict bolsters passengers' rights within the European Union by shooting down an argument by Scandinavian carrier SAS that a 2019 strike by its pilots constituted an "extraordinary circumstance" outside its control.

Because strike action is a fundamental right for workers, it must be regarded as an event "inherent" to the functioning of any company and is thus "foreseeable for the employer", which is able to take steps to mitigate its impact on passengers, the court said.

It rejected SAS's position -- initially upheld in a Swedish court and backed last week in a non-binding opinion by the EU court's advocate general -- that the airline should not be on the hook for a decision taken by a trade union.

The airline complained that, if compensation had to be paid to all 380,000 passengers affected by the week-long pilots' strike in April-May 2019, it would be forced to pay 117 million Euros ($139 million).

The lawsuit was made on behalf of one passenger who claimed 250 euros after a domestic Swedish flight was cancelled on the day it was meant to operate.

Under the EU regulation on air passenger rights, compensation can be claimed for intra-EU flights cancelled or greatly delayed regardless of whether they are operated by EU or non-EU airlines.

The law also applies to EU airlines flying into the bloc from elsewhere, and to any EU or non-EU flights departing from an EU airport.

Because of Brexit, as of this year the rules do not apply in Britain to non-EU carriers flying to EU destinations.

Airlines subject to the EU rules are often keen to limit the scope of the rules when it comes to paying out, especially with revenues decimated since last year by the coronavirus pandemic.

The European Court of Justice said that its verdict applied only where unions covering airline staff followed legal procedures for strikes, and only when their demands could be met by the airline itself, and not by government authorities.

It also said the ruling does not apply to strikes "whose origin is 'external'", such as air traffic controllers' strikes or action by another carrier or company.