Posted: February 5th, 2014
A couple of Caribbean holidaymakers have successfully resolved their claim for flight delay compensation from Virgin Atlantic after appealing to the Civil Aviation Authority.
Martin Offer and his partner were looking forward to their holiday in Saint Lucia in the Caribbean in October 2012; but unfortunately their vacation started badly when the failure of a fire detector on their Virgin Atlantic flight delayed their departure.
The technical issue resulted in Martin and his partner losing a day of their holiday in paradise while the faulty fire detector was being replaced and so, when the couple returned to the UK, Martin made a claim for flight delay compensation from Virgin Atlantic under EU regulation 261/2004.
Virgin Atlantic initially rejected Martin´s claim for flight delay compensation, saying that faulty fire detector was an “extraordinary circumstance” which excluded the company from having to pay compensation under the language of the EU legislation.
However, Martin found out that the faulty fire detector had been identified three days earlier and that Virgin Atlantic had failed to replace it because of the cost of having the replacement part fitted while the plane was in the United States.
Martin complained to the Civil Aviation Authority (the UK equivalent of the Commission for Aviation Regulation) and argued that an international airline such as Virgin Atlantic could be reasonably expected to have contingency plans and spare parts in place for technical issues.
Around the time Martin made his complaint to the Civil Aviation Authority, new guidelines were proposed to the existing EU 261/2004 regulations by the National Enforcement Bodies (of which the Civil Aviation Authority and the Commission for Aviation Regulation are members).
These guidelines specified what constituted an “exception circumstance” and what did not. Technical issues which arose from an airline´s failure to maintain its aircraft in accordance with the required maintenance program were included in the circumstances that did not qualify as exceptional circumstances.
As Virgin Atlantic had failed to replace the faulty fire detector for three days, the Civil Aviation Authority agreed with Martin´s argument, and ordered the airline to pay Martin and his partner €1,200 in resolution of their claim for flight delay compensation from Virgin Atlantic.