El Al Israel Airlines Ltd. (TASE: ELAL) must compensate Israeli passengers whose flights from Europe were delayed by at least three hours, a German court has ruled in response to a claim filed by Belgium/Dutch website Claim It.
El Al has always claimed that Israeli passengers are subject to Israel's Tibi Law, which only compensates passengers on flights that were delayed more than eight hours. The carrier has insisted that Israelis are not entitled to compensation under an EU directive that passengers on flights delayed more than three hours must receive payments.
El Al will be required to compensate its passengers based on the flight distance €250 for flights up to 1,500 kilometers, €400 for a flight between 1500 to 3,500 kilometers, and €600 for a flight longer than 3,500 kilometers.
The German court handed down the ruling following an El Al flight from Frankfurt to Tel Aviv on March 3, 2016, which took off more than three hours late. Claim It wrote to El Al on behalf of the passenger but the carrier responded that the passenger was not entitled to compensation because he is Israeli. Claim It sued in the Frankfurt court, which ruled that the Israeli passenger must be compensated.
Claim It insists that all European airlines must comply with the compensation regime, including low cost companies regardless of where their flights originate, as do all international airlines departing European airports.
Claim It was founded on the back of this law two years ago, setting up a site which demanded the compensation from airlines on behalf of its customers for a 25% fee. All eligible users need to do is sign up for the site enter their names and the details of their flight itinerary, and wait for their compensation to arrive within two to three months. Users who want an immediate payout are offered a symbolic payout of 25% of the expected compensation, with the rest taken eventually by the site. Claims can be filed for flights in the past two years.
If a legal challenge is required in the case an airline refuses to accept responsibility Claim it attorneys, headed by Adv. Abraham Moskowitz, will undertake the legal proceedings (they do not believe there is a need to be present at any stage of the hearings held in European countries.)
This compensation does not interfere with Tibi’s law, which sets compensation for flights delayed by at least 8 hours regardless of their citizenship or the price they paid for the flight.
Claim It CEO Ralph Pais said, "For the most part, El Al responds to our claims and compensates European passengers, as required but the carrier consistently rejects claims for compensation for Israeli passengers. Yet the rationale is that Israeli passengers suffer exactly the same as European passengers when flights are delayed and are therefore entitled to the same compensation."
He added, "To our delight the court ruled that European law relates to all passengers regardless of their origin or nationality. Our calculation is that if El Al passengers will sue the company for delays on flights taking off from Europe over the past two years, it will be forced to pay NIS 300 million."
Due to a protracted dispute between El Al and its pilots, 64% of flights were cancelled or delayed in September alone according to Flightstats. The average delay was 50 minutes. This easily made El Al the world airline worldwide during September with Air China, the next worst airline with an average delay of 35 minutes in September.
El Al said, "The law prevailing in Israel, and especially the Aviation Services Law 2012 sets entitlement for compensation payments for flights delayed by more than eight hours."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on October 18, 2016
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