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ECJ to rule on compensation for passengers who refuse delayed flights

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) will examine the case from a Lithuanian national court involving passengers who refused to take a heavily delayed Ryanair flight and seek compensation. ECJ’s ruling, expected next year, will establish a uniform legal framework on compensation for flights that no longer serve any purpose.

The case against Ryanair was first brought to the Vilnius Court by flight compensation management company Skycop.com when several passengers assigned their claims to the company. They bought tickets and expected to fly with Ryanair, but eventually their flight was delayed by more than five hours. The passengers refused to take such a flight as it no longer served their purpose, and yet Ryanair refused to pay compensation under the EU261 Regulation (€250 per passenger in this case) arguing that passengers didn’t take a significantly delayed flight.

The case was brought to the Vilnius Court which referred it to the ECJ in November 2023 for preliminary ruling. The ECJ started the procedure of the case this February, and its ruling is expected in 2025.

Nerijus Zaleckas, attorney at law who represents Skycop.com in hundreds of other EU261-related cases across the EU, says that passengers who refuse to take significantly delayed flights should also be entitled to compensation. For instance, most business trips usually last less than one day as travelers take morning flights and return home the same evening. If their flights are delayed for more than five hours, such a trip no longer serves its purpose, which is not the passengers’ fault. Such passengers lose time by waiting for their delayed flights, and their trips are nevertheless negatively impacted, so monetary compensation would partially compensate for the loss.

“EU261 Flight Compensation Regulation establishes that when the delay is at least five hours, passengers are entitled to reimbursement of the full cost of the ticket for the part or parts of the journey not made, and for the part or parts already made if the flight is no longer serving any purpose in relation to the passenger’s original travel plan. In addition, the obligation to pay monetary compensation shall apply”, comments Nerijus Zaleckas from Zaleckas Partners law firm.

The European Court of Justice is the court that interprets EU law and is known for its strict adherence to consumer rights in the EU. Cases when heavily delayed flights were not eventually taken have not yet been heard by the ECJ, and so this case should form a precedent across the EU.

Tomas Vaisvila, the CEO of Skycop.com, states that the company partners with more than 20 law firms across the EU and the UK.

“Our goal is to provide a seamless travel and post-travel experience. Airlines are still hesitant to address the latter. Although this particular case may take some time to resolve, we are proud to contribute to a legal precedent applicable to all travelers across the EU,” says Vaisvila.

Established in 2017, Skycop is a major European flight claims management company. The company currently employs around 40 full-time colleagues and dozens of partners. Skycop’s unaudited revenue amounted to €20 million in 2023. Skycop.cop handles tens of thousands of compensation requests per month. In 2024, it started an expansion and acquisition programme as it aims for a top-two position in Europe in the next few years.

Skycop’s core business model is based on free claim management and a fixed fee if compensation for delayed, canceled or overbooked flight is successful. The company also offers the ‘Skycop Care’ subscription scheme without success fees, as well as B2B services for online travel agencies, car rental companies and other businesses.

The post ECJ to rule on compensation for passengers who refuse delayed flights appeared first on AeroTime.

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