Following developing case law of the European Court of Justice, Germany’s Federal Court of Justice has handed down a new ruling on passenger rights to compensation for delayed flights.
Compensation for delayed flights
The Federal Court of Justice in Germany, Bundesgerichtshof, has published a new judgment on passenger rights to compensation for delayed flights.
The case concerned a flight operated by Iberia S.A. flying from Miami to Düsseldorf via Madrid.
The departure was delayed by 1 hour and 20 minutes and arrived in Madrid late. As a result, the passenger was unable to reach the connecting flight, as it departed from a distant terminal. This meant the airline passenger arrived in Düsseldorf seven and a half hours late.
The claimant claimed €600 for a delayed flight, the airline appealed and the Bundesgerichtshof referred the case to the European Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling.
EU law on passenger rights
Under EU law, compensation is foreseen in cases where the departure of a flight is delayed (see Art 6 Regulation (EC) No 261/2004). In this case, the delay of 1h20 was not long enough to engage the rights under EU law.
The Bundesgerichtshof asked the ECJ to clarify whether passengers have a right to compensation where air passengers arrive late at the planned destination.
The question was answered by the ECJ in February 2013 in a separate case entitled Air France/Folkerts (C-11/11). The court ruled that air passengers who arrive at their destination three or more hours late are entitled to compensation ranging from €250 to €600.
In light of the judgement, the BGH withdrew its application for a preliminary ruling. It also rejected the airline’s appeal.
The court stated that the right to compensation for a late arrival also applies to cases where a scheduled connecting flight, which in itself is not delayed, is missed due to the first flight’s delay.