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Flight delays outside the EU

ECJ: Airline has to pay compensation

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) currently decided upon a question that had been causing debates among legal experts for a long time - and the decision is in favor of consumers: If you book a connection with a layover and the connecting flight is delayed, you are entitled to compensation even if the second flight was outside of the EU and operated by a non-EU carrier.

Cause for this verdict was the case of eleven Czech consumers who booked a flight from Prague over Abu Dhabi to Bangkok. The first part was operated by the Czech airline České aerolinie, where they also made the booking. From Abu Dhabi to Bangkok, they flew with Etihad Airways.

While the first flight landed on time, the second was 488 minutes late. According to the EU air passenger rights regulation, consumers have to be compensated for such long delays of more than three hours. Therefore, the eleven consumers requested the payment from České aerolinie.

The case went to the Czech courts who then turned to the ECJ. The European court decided that the Czech airline has to pay the compensation to its passengers, because:

  • The connecting flight was the subject of a single booking at České Aerolinie.
  • The first part flight took place in the territory of the EU and was carried out by a European airline.
  • As a result, České aerolinie can be classified as the operating carrier and is therefore obliged to pay the compensation.

However, the ECJ also noted that the Czech airline could request a reimbursement for the costs of the compensation from the non-European Etihad Airways which caused the delay.

Find more information in the respective press release of the ECJ.

For detailed information regarding your rights as an air passenger, please read our article: Problems during air travel

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