A leaking fuel tank caused a delay of a TUIfly flight from Amsterdam to the Caribbean on January 19, 2018. The European charter airline that operated the flight with a Boeing 787 says that the leakage was the result of a production error by plane maker Boeing.
The airline had to contract another Dreamliner, so the flight could not depart until the next day. TUIfly claims that it accommodated passengers by arranging meals and hotel rooms near the airport. It also claims that in case of such a delay it normally pays compensation to passengers on the basis of EU regulation 261/2004, but not this time.
The EU regulation stipulates that a carrier shall not be obliged to pay compensation if it can prove that there were extraordinary circumstances. The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has clarified this term through a number of rulings making clear that an airline cannot regard technical issues as extraordinary circumstances.
Thus, there is no legal reason why TUIfly should not be obliged to pay compensation to the passengers. Yet, it refused to compensate passengers invoking extraordinary circumstances, which is obviously inconsistent with the EU regulation and the jurisprudence of the CJEU.
By claiming that the delay was caused by a manufacturing error the airline implicates that the delay is Boeing’s responsibility. There are 2 possibilities: the claim of a production error is true or it is not true. In both cases, TUIfly has to compensate the passengers because they have a contract with TUIfly, not with Boeing.
If the statement is true, Boeing is liable for the compensation that TUIfly has to pay to the passengers, so the carrier can simply recover the damage from Boeing (in accordance with article 13 of the EU regulation).
If the statement is not true, it does not make any difference for the passengers, but it does for Boeing. In that case Boeing is not liable and the airline will not be able to recoup the damage from Boeing. But it is still is obliged to compensate its passengers.
We asked TUIfly to let us know if they have valid arguments against this reasoning. However, they did not respond, so it is clear they do not have any valid arguments.
TUIfly responded angrily to our article that their non-response was obviously a sufficient reason to draw our own conclusions. They have nothing to add.
Thus, it is now for sure that they have no argument against our reasoning. Each passenger on the flight has a legal right to compensation of €600 ($740).
Tags: TUIfly, compensation, EU regulation 261/2004, extraordinary circumstances, technical issues