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European Court of Justice

Airlines can now be sued for strikes

A judgement at the European Court of Justice may mean even more passenger compensation claims.

Airline passengers will now be able to claim compensation if employees stage sudden strikes, the European Court of Justice has ruled.

The court decided that flight delays and cancellations caused by “wildcat” strikes are now claimable under EU261, following a case involving TUI’s German airline and a German passenger.

The claim refers to 2016, when a series of absences after company restructuring caused many TUIfly flights to be cancelled or delayed by more than three hours, TTG reports.

Judges asked the court for clarity over whether such industrial action constitutes “extraordinary circumstances” – the get-out clause that airlines can use to avoid paying compensation.

The ruling that sudden strikes should not be classed as extraordinary circumstances will be legally binding throughout Europe and may have serious consequences for carriers like Lufthansa and Air France, which have both suffered prolonged industrial action.

“Airlines have argued for a long time that staff strikes are an extraordinary circumstance,” explained Coby Benson, solicitor at law firm Bott and Co.

“This judgment from the European Court is the latest in a long line of cases that confirms airlines are often obliged to provide monetary compensation.”

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