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Compensation for flight delays between third countries

If a flight is delayed then an airline from the EU has to pay compensation to its passengers if the delay exceeds a certain amount of time. The ECJ was however recently requested by a Belgian court to clarify what rules apply to non-EU airlines.

In the case in question, three air passengers had made a booking, via a Lufthansa travel agency, for a flight from Brussels to the USA. The entire flight, which started in Brussels (EU) and ended up in San Jose (non-EU) was operated by United Airlines, an air carrier based in the USA. The three air passengers reached their final destination almost four hours late. The air passengers assigned their rights to a company that lodged a claim, with a Belgian court, against United Airlines for the payment of compensation. 

The Belgian court asked the ECJ about the applicability of the regulation to such a flight connection between third countries. The ECJ, in its judgement of 7.4.2022 (case reference: C-561/20) held the view that air passengers from a delayed flight were entitled to claim compensation from a non-EU air carrier if this company had operated the entire flight on behalf of an EU air carrier.

Outcome: In the above-mentioned case, the passengers had concluded a contract of carriage with Lufthansa and could therefore claim the compensation from the non-EU air carrier.

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