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Monday, 16 June 2014 12:00 AM

Holiday Flight Delay Compensation

The European Commission regulation 261/2004 provides for compensation for passengers who suffer delays with airlines or flights originating from the EU of longer than three hours.

Compensation is payable for delays caused by numerous issues but, controversially, until recently aircraft technical issues were viewed as unexpected and out of the ordinary, hence could be a valid defence by an airline against such a claim.

Technical Faults Are Not Extraordinary

In June 2014 Lord Justice Elias upheld a Court of Appeal (in England) ruling for compensation to a passenger who had been on a delayed flight, which had been delayed by more than a day due to technical reasons (defective wiring).

Lord Justice Elias stated that “the cause of the technical problem was simply wear and tear. The Court, quite rightly, took a common sense approach to this and held that wear and tear is entirely ordinary …”. Faults that are out of the ordinary “stem from events which, by their nature or origin, are not inherent in the normal exercise of the activity of the air carrier concerned”. have stated that it will take the case to the UK’s Supreme Court and, if upheld, “would have a significant effect on the entire airline industry”. An appeal and decision could take a little more than a year. Until that time any such claims may be put on hold even though the 10th June 2014 judgement currently stands. If a Supreme Court appeal is not allowed, could try to take this to the European Court of Justice (which would set precedent across the EU).

The Effect

This means that airlines will have to compensate passengers for delays of more than 3 hours arriving at their destination for delays caused by something within the airline’s control, even technical faults (extraordinary issues, e.g. bad weather, industrial action, security issues, air traffic management and political unrest, are outside of their control). This covers all such flight, irrespective of whether as a package or not, but claims are to the airline not the tour operator.

Strictly speaking the ruling is actually only binding on UK (excl. Scotland and N Ireland) based airlines and flights originating from or terminating in the UK (excl. Scotland and N Ireland) although it refers to European Commission regulations hence may be found to apply to EU based airlines and flights originating from or terminating in the EU (any decision by the European Court of Justice would have such an effect).

The ruling allows for compensation for any such delay back to February 2005 (when the rules came into effect), but older claims may be difficult (Scottish statute of limitations limit claims to 5 years and in the rest of the UK they are limited to 6 years).

Any claim for compensation for such delay should be made with the airline direct, but ay such claim made now is likely to be put on hold until the Supreme Court’s final decision (likely to be summer 2015).

NB For flight delays of more than 2 hours departing, the airline may have to look after you (depending on the length of the flight).

Compensation on Delayed Flights UK to Morocco

All flights from the UK to Morocco are within the same compensation bracket (based on flight distance, relevant distance bracket 1,480km – 3,480 km) so any compensation payable under these rules for delays of more than 3 hours would be Euro 400 (around £320) if upheld and paid. This compensation is in addition to food, accommodation and other such costs – receipts required.

This compensation is on a per passenger basis.

A Note on Cancelled Flights

The rules on cancelled flights remains unaltered in that you have the right to a refund for the cancelled flight or an alternative flight (re-routing) to your destination.


The above information is based on our understanding of the legal position and should not be taken as legal advice.