The cancellation of a flight due to the sudden death of a pilot does not exempt an airline from its obligation to compensate passengers for the delay, the European Court of Justice said on Thursday Reuters reported.
The EU top court’s judgment is in relation to a TAP Portugal flight that was cancelled on July 17, 2019, because the co-pilot was found dead in his hotel bed less than two hours before the scheduled departure time.
The early morning 6:05 am. flight from Stuttgart to Lisbon was cancelled as the crew declared themselves unfit to fly due to the shock of the event.
As the airline does not have a base at Stuttgart there was no replacement crew available and a new crew had to be flown in and there was a 10-hour delay.
TAP declined to pay compensation to passengers as it claimed that the death of the co-pilot was an extraordinary circumstance which exempted it from its obligation to compensate passengers.
German local and regional courts held TAP liable for compensation, a Dutch court had separately held that unexpected crew illness amounted to an event beyond the airline’s control.
But the EU court dismissed that argument, claiming that dealing with an unexpected absence, including due to illness or death, is “intrinsically linked” to the crew planning that is part of an airline’s normal activities.
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