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05 December 2018
María Eugenia Paz Alonso filed a lawsuit against Qatar Airways, requesting compensation for moral damages and expenses allegedly incurred following the delay and cancellation of a flight from Sao Paulo to Buenos Aires.
Alonso's claim was based on an alleged lack of:
Alonso also alleged that due to the flight's cancellation, she had arrived in Buenos Aires 24 hours later than originally planned and had incurred moral damages as a result.
Alonso claimed compensation for moral damage and expenses under:
Qatar Airways affirmed that the planned flight route had been Doha (Qatar) to Buenos Aires, with a stopover in Sao Paulo. However, the second flight had been cancelled after the aircraft's fuselage was struck by lightning during landing at Sao Paulo Airport (Guarulhos).
Qatar Airways provided the court with:
Qatar Airways also proved to the court that the aircraft's captain had reported the accident and the damage to maintenance services which had, after an exhaustive inspection, determined that there was damage not only to the paint but also to the structure of the fuselage.
According to the Qatar Airways operation manual, the aircraft's condition had prevented it from continuing the flight safely: 32 holes were detected in the fuselage (two of which were of such magnitude that they would have prevented the aircraft from flying). Maintenance work had been performed uninterruptedly and the aircraft was released from service for 23.5 hours.
Qatar Airways proved that Alonso had been immediately reassigned to the next available flight operated by the airline, which had arrived at Buenos Aires 24 hours later than the original arrival time.
Qatar Airways held that it was not responsible for Alonso's late arrival because the delay had been the result of a fortuitous event and force majeure. Further, the airline questioned the origin and amount of the compensation claimed by Alonso, and invoked the limits of responsibility provided for under the Montreal Convention.
In its decision, the first-instance court reasoned as follows:
The court declared that the airline had breached its transport contract and the obligations to its passengers. The court concluded the following:
The court ordered Qatar Airways to pay Alonso Ps13,000 (approximately $350) plus interest, in addition to costs incurred since the incident. Qatar Airways was denied an appeal before the Federal Civil and Commercial Court of Appeals because the amount was below the appeal threshold set by the Procedures Code.
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