The UK’s civil aviation regulator has asked Emirates to stick to its word and pay flight delay compensation and has written to Etihad, Singapore and American Airlines to comply with a European Union law relating to passengers' rights in case of flight disruption.
This was in response to a UK court judgement over the weekend that Emirates’ passengers could claim compensation for flight delays.
Emirates said it is seeking legal advice.
Britain’s Civil Aviation Authority said the court ruling provided clarity to both consumers and airlines that compensation delays must be paid.
On Friday, the UK Court of Appeal ruled in favour that Emirates pay flight delay compensation for missed connections on two cases. The two separate cases involved passengers who filed for compensation following delays to their flights originating in Manchester with late arrivals in Dubai causing them to miss connecting flights to Bangkok and Sydney.
“We are very disappointed by the Court of Appeal’s ruling in relation to the application of EC261 on our flights from the UK involving a stopover in Dubai and are currently seeking legal advice on our options,” an Emirates spokeswoman said.
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This referred to support passengers are entitled to in case of disruption including financial compensation as per the European Commission Regulation EC261.
Following the verdict, Britain’s Civil Aviation Authority said passengers of non-EU airlines who miss connecting flights outside the region can now claim compensation.
This means passengers of non-EU airlines, who experienced a delay on the first leg of a flight, which caused them to miss a connecting flight and therefore arrive at their final destination at least three hours late can claim compensation of up to €600 euros (Dh2,605) whether the final destination was within or outside the EU, the UK’s CAA said in a statement.
The CAA said it had written to Emirates calling on the airline “to be good to its word and accept the judgement as a definite resolution of the issue.”
In its response, Emirates said: "Our commitment to excellent customer service will not be compromised and we will continue to always put the safety of our passengers and crew first, going above and beyond to ensure that any disruption caused are kept to a minimum.
“As one of the world’s largest airlines, we have always complied rigorously with all legal requirements and regulations as set by the relevant authorities and these findings today will not impact this commitment.”
Turkish Airlines began compensating passengers for missed connections, the CAA said.
“We are pleased to say that Turkish Airlines has since worked constructively with the CAA and is now compensating passengers for missed connections,” the regulator said.
“We have also written to the other three airlines, American Airlines, Etihad and Singapore Airlines, to ensure they comply with the ruling immediately.”
Andrew Haines, the CAA’s chief executive, described the Court of Appeal’s ruling as “fantastic news for passengers who can now demand airlines pay them the compensation they are entitled to when they miss a connecting flight.
“This ruling sends a clear message to Emirates and the other airlines that have used protracted legal processes to prolong their refusal to give consumers their legal entitlement.”
He said flight disruptions were frustrating and delays that caused passengers to miss connecting flights had a damaging effect on travel plans.
“For a family of four this compensation could be worth as much as €2,400 and we will not hesitate to take further action if airlines fail to comply.”
The UK court decision confirms the CAA’s earlier interpretation of the EC261 delay compensation rules.
In February, the CAA said it would take action against five major airlines including Emirates, Etihad, Singapore Airlines, Turkish Airlines and American Airlines for failing to comply with the missed connections EU law.
At the time, Etihad said the issue of liability of non-EU airlines under EC261 for delays caused by missed connections outside the EU was subject to appeal.