Passengers delayed on connecting flights from airports outside the EU are nonetheless entitled to claim compensation under European law, the European Court of Justice has ruled. The ruling, published last week, means passengers who are denied boarding, delayed more than three hours or have a flight cancelled can claim for compensation, in line with existing EU regulations.
The case, Claudia Wegener v Royal Air Maroc SA, involved the German passenger delayed by four hours on a journey from Berlin to Agadir, Morocco, via Casablanca. She checked in for the entirety of her journey at Berlin Airport but was delayed at her interim destination.
The airline had rejected her request for compensation by stating she was not entitled to claim, on the grounds that Morocco is outside the EU and the change in aircraft for the connecting flight constituted a separate journey. The defendant relied on the ‘scope’ aspect of the regulations which dictates that successful claimants should be travelling to an airport ‘situated in the territory of a member state to which the treaty applies’.
The matter was referred to the ECJ for a preliminary hearing, where the court said that a change of aircraft has no impact whatsoever on passengers’ right to claim.
The decision is legally binding throughout Europe, and sets a new precedent, industry experts say.
Coby Benson, flight delay solicitor at north west firm Bott and Co said: ‘This decision is the latest pro-consumer case to come from the European Court of Justice and enhance the rights of passengers. This judgment will ensure that passengers on connecting flights will now have the same high level of protection as passengers who chose to fly directly to their destination.’