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Aviation

EU court sides with passengers in flight delay ruling

The European Court of Justice has ruled that air passengers arriving late at their destination are entitled to damages. The court has dealt specifically with the issue of connecting flights left out in earlier rulings.

Airline passengers using connecting flights during their journey were entitled to compensation if they arrived more than three hours late at their final destination, the European court of Justice ruled Tuesday.

The European Union's top court said that passengers must be paid damages even if their initial flight was delayed for a shorter period of time.

The case heard by the Luxembourg-based court was that of a German woman who was flying from Germany to Paraguay with stops in France and Brazil. Since her initial flight to France was two and a half hours behind schedule, she missed her connections and arrived in Paraguay 11 hours late.

Initially, a German court ordered Air France to pay the passenger 600 euros ($786) in damages. But the French airline appealed the ruling in Germany's highest administrative court, which passed the case on to the European Court of Justice.

In the case of connecting flights, what mattered was the delay at the final destination because the opposite approach would constitute an unjustified difference in treatment, the judges in Luxembourg said in their ruling.

Tuesday's ruling further strengthens the rights of air passengers, after the European Court of Justice already gave passengers the right to compensation not only for cancelled flights, but also for long delays in a previous verdict handed down in 2009.

uhe/rg (AFP, dpa)