Delayed jet man wins court battle

Times Series: The Jet2.com flight left a day late The Jet2.com flight left a day late

A passenger whose flight arrived 27 hours late has won a "landmark" compensation fight with an airline which said the delay was caused by "extraordinary circumstances".

Ronald Huzar said he was entitled to compensation under European Union regulations after suffering "no little inconvenience" when the flight from Malaga, Spain, to Manchester left a day late in October 2011.

But Jet2.com bosses claimed an exemption. They said the problem which caused the delay - a technical fault on an airliner - was unforeseeable and amounted to an "extraordinary circumstance".

The Court of Appeal today ruled in Mr Huzar's favour after a hearing in London.

Three appeal judges said the case was "of some importance to the airline passenger industry".

And a consumer rights campaigner described the ruling as a landmark.

Judges said the onus of proof was on the airline to show that extraordinary circumstances existed and that delay could not have been avoided.

And, after analysing legal argument, they concluded that the "extraordinary circumstances defence" did not apply in Mr Huzar's case.

One appeal judge listed terrorism, strikes, air traffic control problems and freak weather as events beyond the control of airline.

No personal details were given for Mr Huzar in the appeal court ruling handed down today.

Judges had heard evidence at a hearing in May.

They had been asked to analyse the case following a ruling by a judge in a county court in Manchester.

"The amount of people looking to claim against the airlines amounts to big business, " said campaigner James Walker, founder of complaints resolution website www.resolver.co.uk , after the appeal court ruling.

"In January alone there were 499 flights where a claim could potentially be made. At most, 5-10% of claims are currently upheld by the airlines."

He added: " Today's judgment is a landmark case ... airlines need to beware the reasons for rejecting or delaying claims are being eroded."

Richard Lloyd, executive director of consumer organisation Which?, said: "This ruling shows that airlines cannot avoid ducking their responsibilities by claiming that routine technical problems are extraordinary circumstances.

"Airlines must be transparent about the causes of delay and ensure that consumers have sufficient information to exercise their rights."

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