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Manchester Airport May 19th

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The problems at Manchester Airport, due to failure in fuelling system got me thinking. As far as I know delay compensation rights are between the passenger and the carrier, and the latter can avoid being liable for situations beyond their control. I imagine an airport being unable to fuel a carrier's planes would be one of those situations beyond the carrier's control.
So where does this leave passengers? Presumably carriers will refund or provide flights at no extra cost, but not pay any delay compensation. Passengers have no direct contractual link to the airport so any failure by the airport could only be approached through common law tort - negligence. Passengers would have to litigate on the basis of breach of duty of care and subsequent loss and damage.
No doubt carriers will have penalty clauses in their contracts with airports for lack of performance by the airport, but passengers it seems to me have no rights against an airport unless they litigate .
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  • Tyzap
    Tyzap Posts: 2,112 Forumite
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    Hi SROBH,

    Point1.

    Just as some airlines are members of a complaints adjudication company so are most airports. Manchester Airport is a member of CEDR, found here....
    https://www.cedr.com/consumer/aviation/submit-a-claim/

    The complaint must be addressed directly to the airport first but, if that fails, a referral can then be made to CEDR.

    Point2.

    I'm not convinced that this type of dispute should be made to the airport. As the airport is a sub-contractor to the airline, and the airline is contracted by the passenger, it may well be that the claims process should be via the airline and the usual EU261 legislation. They in turn can then claim from the sub-contractor.

    It's a complicated situation so perhaps a phone call to the CAA could clear this up.
    Please read Vaubans superb guide. To find it Google and then download 'vaubans guide'.
  • manny89
    manny89 Posts: 20 Forumite
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    edited 22 May 2019 at 5:16PM
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    Interested to see how this thread pans out. I filed a compensation claim with Easyjet but they rejected it saying it was the airport's fault therefore extraordinary circumstances so not covered by EU261.
  • Deehem
    Deehem Posts: 32 Forumite
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    I too have filed an EU261 compensation claim to Ryanair, who have rejected it on the basis of"

    > As this cancellation was unexpected and therefore beyond Ryanair’s control we wish to inform you that no compensation is due under EU261.

    Reasonable measures, such as contingency plans could have taken place. Ryanair did not have to cancel the flights, instead, delay the flights until the situation was resolved.

    Also interested in how this thread pans out, and whether anybody has had any reasonable success with another carrier under EU261?
  • Tyzap
    Tyzap Posts: 2,112 Forumite
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    edited 22 May 2019 at 4:19PM
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    I have today sent an Email to consumer enforcement at the CAA requesting clarification on the Manchester Airport fuel problem. I also asked them to issue some guidance via their website and social media that would assist passengers.

    Let's see if and when they get back to me or issue a public statement.

    Some airlines have been citing the incident as an Extraordinary Circumstance (EC) to avoid paying compensation. However, there are two hurdles that the airline must pass to avoid having to make compensation payments. Most airlines tend to never mention this. The airline must pass BOTH of these hurdles, so citing the incident as an EC is not enough in-it's-self.

    The second hurdle is 'All Reasonable Measures' and the regs say...

    "In accordance with Article 5(3) of the Regulation, an air carrier is exempted from paying compensation in the event of cancellation or delay at arrival if it can prove that the cancellation or delay is caused by extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken"

    So to avoid compensation payments the airline must be able to prove that the incident was an EC AND that they had taken all reasonable measures to avoid the delay or cancellation.

    The second hurdle is of great importance because the regulations expect the airline to have done everything in it's power, to the point of 'intolerable sacrifices' to avoid the delay or cancellation.

    The regs say this...
    e. Reasonable measures an air carrier can be expected to take in extraordinary circumstances
    Whenever extraordinary circumstances arise an air carrier must, in order to be released from the obligation to pay compensation, show that it could not avoid them even if it had taken all reasonable measures to this effect.
    Furthermore, the Court52 has found that under Article 5(3) of the Regulation, an air carrier can be required to organise its resources in good time so that it is possible to operate a programmed flight once the extraordinary circumstances have ceased, that is to say, during a certain period following the scheduled departure time. In particular, the air carrier should provide for a certain reserve time to allow it, if possible, to operate the flight in its entirety once the extraordinary circumstances have come to an end. Such reserve time is assessed on a case-by-case basis. However, Article 5(3) cannot be interpreted as requiring, as a ‘reasonable measure’, provision to be made, generally and without distinction, for a minimum reserve time applicable in the same way to all air carriers in all situations when extraordinary circumstances arise. In this regard available resources will generally be higher at the home base compared to outbound destinations thereby giving more possibilities to limit the impact of extraordinary circumstances. The assessment of the air carrier’s ability to operate the programmed flight in its entirety in the new conditions resulting from the occurrence of those circumstances must be carried out in such a way as to ensure that the length of the required reserve time does not result in the air carrier being led to make intolerable sacrifices in the light of the capacities of its undertaking at the relevant time.

    The 'all reasonable measures' hurdle includes alternatives that the airline could/should have used to lessen or prevent the delay, these include-

    A. Re fuelling aircraft at a different airport on route to Manchester.
    B. Re fuelling at a different airport on departure from Manchester (some did do this if they still had enough fuel left in the tanks for a short flight)
    C. Requesting fuel bowsers to tanker the fuel from Ellesmere port refinery (only 40 minutes from Manchester airport)
    D. Bus passengers to/from Liverpool airport (less than 1 hour from Man by road)
    E. Resolve the situation quickly once fuel was available again.

    It's unlikely that the above measures would have resolved the delays of all the flights affected but it seems some airlines made no alternative efforts what-so-ever. This is why each case must be assessed on it's own merits.
    Unfortunately this could result in some flights from the same incident being due compensation and other not.

    Inaccurate/misleading information the CAA website on EC's.

    The advice offered by the CAA on their website regarding EC's can be found here....
    https://www.caa.co.uk/Passengers/Resolving-travel-problems/Delays-cancellations/Your-rights/Am-I-entitled-to-compensation-/

    You will notice that they make NO mention to the 'all reasonable measure' element of EC's. To only mention one part and not the other is, imho, remiss of them to the point of inaccuracy. It does not tell the full story accurately and should be corrected asap. It is clearly spelt out in the regulations and there is no reason that the CAA should not also do so.

    I hope this helps to clarify how the EU261 may come to the assistance of some passengers caught up in the Manchester Airport fuel problem and how the CAA do/don't help.
    Please read Vaubans superb guide. To find it Google and then download 'vaubans guide'.
  • Deehem
    Deehem Posts: 32 Forumite
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    Thank you, Tyzap, that is quite the comprehensive response.

    I have also sought guidance from CAA on the matter. One element that does stick out particularly is that ultimately fuelling an aircraft is an indispensable part of air transport, and subsequently inherent in the normal exercise of the airlines activity.

    Therefore, it is to be assumed that correct contingency measures should and could have been put in to place to aid the refuelling of the aircraft, and if not, it is the airlines responsibility to clarify what measures they did take if they are going to refute any compensation claims.
  • Tyzap
    Tyzap Posts: 2,112 Forumite
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    Hi Deehem,

    Here is some further supporting evidence...

    c. Collision of mobile boarding stairs with an aircraft
    The Court51 has clarified that the collision of mobile boarding stairs with an aircraft cannot be considered as ‘extraordinary circumstances’ exempting the air carrier from payment of compensation under Article 5(3) of the Regulation. Mobile stairs or gangways can be regarded as indispensable to air passenger transport, and therefore air carriers are regularly faced with situations arising from the use of such equipment. A collision between an aircraft and a set of mobile boarding stairs is, hence, an event inherent in the normal exercise of the activity of the air carrier.

    So you could use the same argument about the fuel supply imo.

    From here...
    https://ec.europa.eu/transport/sites/transport/files/themes/passengers/news/doc/2016-06-10-better-enforcement-pax-rights/c%282016%293502_en.pdf

    Which makes interesting reading if you have the time:)
    Please read Vaubans superb guide. To find it Google and then download 'vaubans guide'.
  • Justice13075
    Justice13075 Posts: 2,008 Forumite
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    One for the Supreme court me thinks.
  • manny89
    manny89 Posts: 20 Forumite
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    In the case of the flight I took, the problem wasn't fuelling per se.

    The plane had enough fuel, it just couldn't land at Manchester airport because it was closed to planes landing as there was no space.

    It says in the EU reg that 'runway closure' is an extraordinary circumstance, so they could possibly rely on that?

    However, I would argue that they should have flown to Liverpool as soon as they found out they couldn't land at Manchester, thereby avoiding such a lengthy delay.
    Deehem wrote: »
    Thank you, Tyzap, that is quite the comprehensive response.

    I have also sought guidance from CAA on the matter. One element that does stick out particularly is that ultimately fuelling an aircraft is an indispensable part of air transport, and subsequently inherent in the normal exercise of the airlines activity.

    Therefore, it is to be assumed that correct contingency measures should and could have been put in to place to aid the refuelling of the aircraft, and if not, it is the airlines responsibility to clarify what measures they did take if they are going to refute any compensation claims.
  • Tyzap
    Tyzap Posts: 2,112 Forumite
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    manny89 wrote: »
    In the case of the flight I took, the problem wasn't fuelling per se.

    The plane had enough fuel, it just couldn't land at Manchester airport because it was closed to planes landing as there was no space.

    It says in the EU reg that 'runway closure' is an extraordinary circumstance, so they could possibly rely on that?

    However, I would argue that they should have flown to Liverpool as soon as they found out they couldn't land at Manchester, thereby avoiding such a lengthy delay.

    Hi manny89,

    Whether that is true or not we don't know at this stage.

    What I can say is that other aircraft were landing and departing all day and I do not believe that the airport was closed at any point.

    Sooo, are you being given accurate information by the airline!
    Please read Vaubans superb guide. To find it Google and then download 'vaubans guide'.
  • daveyjp
    daveyjp Posts: 12,646 Forumite
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    The airport was never closed to landing aircraft.

    "Airliners Live" were streaming activity at Manchester Airport on the afternoon of the problem.

    Whilst take offs were reduced, landings continued. They actually commented how quiet it was and someone messaged about the airport suffering a power cut.
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