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13 November 2019
In most cases, flights are operated by aircraft that arrive at an airport from a previous flight.
Each airline has a fleet of aircraft and flight schedules are complicated. Therefore, a problem that arises with one aircraft may affect its next flights. For example, flights are sometimes delayed or cancelled due to a delay or cancellation of the previous flight.
The Tel Aviv District Court recently denied a motion for leave to appeal filed by a passenger(1) whose claim regarding the cancellation of his flight due to lightning damage to the aircraft which had occurred during the previous flight was denied by the Tel Aviv Small Claims Court.(2)
The plaintiff purchased tickets for a flight from Tunisia to Tel Aviv via Istanbul. The flight was due to depart from Tunisia to Istanbul on 25 January 2019 at 4:30pm and the connecting flight from Istanbul to Tel Aviv was scheduled for 10:25pm on the same day.
The flight from Tunisia to Istanbul should have been carried out by the same aircraft that was due to arrive in Tunisia from Istanbul. However, this aircraft was damaged by lightning during the flight from Istanbul to Tunisia and was not fit for the plaintiff's flight from Tunisia to Istanbul. As a result, he missed his connecting flight to Tel Aviv.
The airline provided the plaintiff with:
The plaintiff arrived at his final destination after a delay of 19.5 hours; hence, he claimed:
The judge declined the claim and decided that the plaintiff's flight had been cancelled due to special circumstances that were out of the airline's control, which is an exclusion of the right for statutory compensation.
Further, the court stated that this had been an unexpected event that was not dependent on the airline (including by routine maintenance of the aircraft); hence, it had been inevitable.
The court rejected the plaintiff's argument that the airline should have provided an alternative aircraft to prevent such delays because such a demand is unreasonable and would substantially increase airline expenses, which would eventually be imposed on passengers via increased ticket prices.
The court held that providing an alternative flight the next morning and the necessary assistance services was reasonable under the circumstances.
The claim was dismissed and the plaintiff was ordered to pay the defendant NIS850 in legal expenses.
As this was a small claims court judgment, there is no right of appeal. However, the losing party may file a motion for leave to appeal with the district court.
The district court declined the motion and did not grant the requested leave.
As this case did not raise any issues beyond the direct interests of the parties involved and because it relates to specific circumstances that were dealt with through a factual examination, the small claims judgment remained unchanged. The court further stated that the appellate court's intervention in awarded legal expenses is rare and, in this case, they were reasonable.
For further information on this topic please contact Peggy Sharon or Keren Marco at Levitan, Sharon & Co by telephone (+972 3 688 6768) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com). The Levitan, Sharon & Co website can be accessed at www.israelinsurancelaw.com.
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