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UK Civil Aviation Authority Secures Compensation For Delayed Passengers
By Jim Douglas

April 28, 2013 - Since a European Court judgment six months ago, the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has secured $125,166 in compensation for UK passengers hit by delays of over three hours that it considers were within their airline’s control. 

On 23 October 2012, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) judgment in the case of TUI Travel and others v CAA confirmed that passengers whose flights arrive more than three hours late may be entitled to compensation for the delay in line with EC Regulation 261/2004, unless circumstances outside the airline’s control delayed the flight. 

As the UK’s enforcement body, the CAA provides a free mediation service to any passenger having trouble resolving complaints against airlines or airports. Before contacting the CAA, passengers should contact the airline first, to give them an opportunity to consider their claim. 


The CAA is currently managing a backlog of claims as a result of the judgment, and may take more time to assess the situation and respond to passengers than usual. Since the judgment, the CAA has received over 5,800 claims from passengers who have approached their airline and are not satisfied with the response they received. To date CAA has argued that compensation should be paid in around half of the claims that they have considered. 

Iain Osborne, CAA Director of Regulatory Policy said, “Long delays, and cancellations, only affect a minority of passengers, but when they occur, they can have a massive impact on people’s holidays and business trips.” 

“Since the position around compensation was clarified by the European Court, our free mediation team has seen a deluge of claims from passengers leading to us securing them nearly $130,790 in compensation already. However, we would far rather that passengers never needed to involve us and airlines settled claims much more quickly, directly with their passengers. To help them, we will soon provide airlines with more detailed guidelines about what kind of circumstances we judge are within their control."



The European Union is separately reviewing provision of assistance and compensation to passengers under the EC Regulation 261/2004 rules. 

Flight cancellations and delays occur for a variety of reasons, some of which are outside the control of the airline. The right to financial compensation does not apply if the airline can demonstrate that the reason for the cancellation was an extraordinary event and was outside their control. Extraordinary circumstances vary from case to case but could include problems like extreme weather conditions or strikes. 

Even when cancellations or delays are caused by extraordinary circumstances, passengers are entitled to care and assistance including food, drinks and hotel accommodation where appropriate. 

The CAA is the UK's specialist aviation regulator. Its activities include: making sure that the aviation industry meets the highest technical and operational safety standards, preventing holidaymakers from being stranded abroad or losing money because of tour operator insolvency, planning and regulating all UK airspace; and regulating airports, air traffic services and airlines and providing advice on aviation policy from an economic standpoint.
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