County Court (Oxford)
A defendant airline was in breach of its obligation to provide meals and refreshments under Regulation 261/2004 art.9(1)(a) where a claimant's flight was cancelled due to flying restrictions. However, the breach of that obligation did not give rise to a civil right to seek a monetary award under the Regulations.
The claimant (H) brought a claim against the defendant airline (X) seeking compensation for costs incurred following the cancellation of an airline flight.
H had booked a return flight from the United Kingdom to Spain. The return flight was due to leave on April 16, 2010. Following a volcanic eruption, flying restrictions were imposed and H's return flight was cancelled. He was rebooked on a substitute flight due to leave on April 21, 2010 but, on April 20, he used an alternative means of returning to the UK. H claimed compensation for expenses, including the cost of meals, incurred between April 16 and April 20.
X submitted that by choosing to return home by his own means, H waived any rights he had under Regulation 261/2004 art.9(1)(a) .
HELD: Under art.5(1)(b) and art.9(1)(a), there was a period of waiting from April 16 until April 20 during which X's obligation under art.9(1)(a) to provide passengers with free meals and refreshments in certain circumstances arose. There had been a rebooking; X were aware that there would be a right to care under art.9.1. They should therefore be responsible for the costs reasonably incurred by H during that period. However, in accordance with the Civil Aviation (Denied Boarding, Compensation and Assistance) Regulations 2005 reg.3, breach of that obligation was, if anything, an offence and did not give rise to a civil right to seek compensation under the 2004 Regulations (see paras 11-12 of judgment).
For the claimant: In person
For the defendant: Mr Cunnington
William Meade (Senior Clerk)