Birdstrike over Bulgaria as cause for flight delay: No compensation for passengers

Written by on May 5, 2017 in Europe - Comments Off on Birdstrike over Bulgaria as cause for flight delay: No compensation for passengers

A woman and a man wanted to fly from Burgas, at Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast, to Ostrava in Czechia. Shortly after takeoff, the plane suffered a birdstrike. In the end, the case was dealt with at the European Court of Justice.

The outcome: When extraordinary circumstances lead to a flight delay, passengers will not be compensated. According to the court, birdstrikes are part of this category. Marcela Peskova und Jiri Peska, who sued the airline for 500 Euro, will not receive a single cent.

The two plaintiffs had built their case on an earlier decision taken by the European Court of Justice, according to which airlines have to compensate passengers for delays of more than three hours. In their case, that flight from Bulgaria to Czechia had a delay of five hours and 20 minutes.

Since the airline did not have control over the situation resulting from the birdstrike, an extraordinary circumstance, it did not have to compensate anyone, the judges decided. In the corresponding European laws, it says “extraordinary circumstances are occurrences, which are not part of the airline’s business and therefore not manageable.”

In the case of the flight in question, there was a second problem, a potentially far more dangerous one. It was a technical issue with the thrust reverser, which occurred during the flight. But this problem lead to a delay of only one hour and 45 minutes.

After the European court decision, experts in Germany demanded an amendment of the law. They said, the definition “extraordinary circumstances” should be improved. As it turns out, the E.U. Commission has already proposed a specific amendment, but the member states have not decided on it so far.

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