12 June 2014 at 08.23 GMT
Jet2.com has vowed to go to the Supreme Court in a last-ditch attempt to get a judgment over compensation for flight delays overruled.
Lawyers acting for consumers said yesterday’s High Court judgment “opens the floodgates” for air passengers to claim compensation.
Jet2 lost an appeal against a county court ruling that it was liable to compensate passenger Ron Huzar for a 27-hour delay to a flight from Manchester to Malaga in October 2011.
Huzar, a property company director from Stockport, said that his victory set a precedent for 17.6 million potential claims with a combined value of £6.3 billion.
He told the Times: “For British passengers this is an important case. It is not just about compensation, it is about the principle and the way Jet2.com dealt with me.
“The harder it got, the more determined I became.”
His law firm Bott&Co urged other passengers to pursue compensation and said: “The judgment in this case is binding on all County Courts in England and Wales and it therefore opens the floodgates for passengers to finally recover compensation if their flight has been cancelled or delayed due to technical problems – at least in the vast majority of cases.
“If you have previously been denied compensation with the airline using a technical problem as a defence, then you can write to the airline again based on this ruling and request the compensation you are eligible for.”
The firm’s managing partner Paul Hinchliffe said: “This is a binding decision and a huge victory for passengers who have been wrongly denied compensation by airlines, amounting to billions of pounds for millions of consumers.”
The High Court ruled the defect was “inherent in the normal exercise of the activity of the air carrier … and therefore not extraordinary”.
Lawyers for Jet2.com argued the fault should be classed as an “extraordinary circumstance”, excusing the airline from liability for compensation under the European regulation on air passenger rights (Regulation EC 261/2004).
The airline said it would take the dispute to the Supreme Court.
Jet2.com said the judgment “is disappointing and could, if unchallenged, have a significant impact on the entire airline industry.
“The judge noted that the issue ‘is not without some difficulty’, and as such we are taking the dispute to the Supreme Court.”
The delay was caused by a wiring defect which the court accepted was “unforeseen and unforeseeable”.
“The European National Enforcement Bodies have agreed that unexpected technical defects, such as the one in this case, are outside of the control of airlines, and would therefore be considered extraordinary for the purposes of compensation,” the airline said.
“The ongoing European review of EC261/2004 also recognises this.
“The ruling will only cause further confusion for passengers and airlines, which is why we will continue to seek clarity and consistency by appealing directly to a higher court.
“We regret any inconvenience to passengers. We are always committed to getting them to their destination on time.
“Our focus is to deliver a friendly service and low fares to our customers and we sincerely hope that this will not be jeopardised by today’s ruling.”
Sourced from Travel Weekly