Compensation is being denied to thousands of passengers affected by delays and cancellations due to the emergency landing at Heathrow by a British Airways aircraft, according to a report today.
BA cancelled almost 200 flights in the wake of Friday’s incident which led to the temporary closure of Heathrow’s two runways.
The airline, which did pay for food and hotel accommodation for stranded passengers, insisted it is not liable for further compensation of £214 a person for anyone travelling to Europe under European Union consumer legislation.
BA said the closure of the airport – albeit as a result of a crisis involving one of its own aircraft – should be classed as an “extraordinary circumstance,” the Daily Telegraph reported.
The same argument BA said applied to services which were delayed by the incident involving a Pakistan International Airlines, which made a forced landing after being forced to divert to Stansted following a suspected terrorism alert.
New guidelines are expected to be unveiled by the Euroepean Commission which will set out under what circumstances compensation should be placed.
BA will be in a stronger position if the abandoned flight to Oslo was subject to a bird strike than if it emerges that there was a maintenance failure, the newspaper reported.
“Whether the passengers on the Oslo flight have a claim will depend on what caused the plane to turn back in the first place. Bird strike would be classed as an extraordinary circumstance,” said Alan Meneghetti, head of the regulatory aviation practice at law firm Clyde and Co.
“There has been no case law on knock-on cases. The closure of the runway was outside any airline’s control and there is a decent case to be made for BA.”
A BA spokesman said it did not believe it was liable to pay compensation because the disruption was due to circumstances beyond its control.
“We did all we could to offer duty of care including giving out refreshments and providing hotel rooms.”
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