European Court ruling on collisions with aircraft stairs

Monday, November 24, 2014

The European Union’s Court of Justice decided last Friday (21/11/2014) that airlines are obliged to grant compensation for flights delayed due to collisions with aircraft ramps. These incidents are no longer regarded as “extraordinary circumstances” and passengers are henceforth entitled to financial compensation.

The Situation

We received a claim last year for a flight delayed by six hours. The delay occurred on October 3, 2013 on a Condor flight from Antalya to Frankfurt as the plane was damaged by a collision with the aircraft ramp. The mobile stairway had crashed into the plane which could not take off after the incident. The passengers in question filed a claim at the airline directly but were rejected as Condor referred to the incident as an extraordinary circumstance.

The Ruling

According to the Court, technical problems can be considered as extraordinary circumstances in some cases. However after reviewing this particular case, the European Court of Justice ruled the incident should not be considered as such. After all, ramps are an integral part transporting passengers and collisions with aircrafts are an expected event. A collision with a mobile ramp should therefore not be seen as an exceptional circumstance.

Good news for passengers, and for the airlines again an excuse less not to grant compensation.

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