Upper Austria: AK wins against Condor!

Consumer protection of the AKOÖ wins a test case against the German airline Condor. Upper Austrian consumers had booked a flight from Munich to Antalya (Turkey). Some time after take-off, the plane changed its course and flew to Frankfurt. In Frankfurt passengers had to wait several hours before they were finally taken to Antalya with a replacement aircraft and nine hours delay. Condor refused compensation.

A total of 14 air passengers had contacted the consumer protection department of the Arbeiterkammer OÖ in view of this incident.

According to the EU air passenger rights regulation, air passengers are entitled to claim compensation in case of a flight delay of more than three hours, the so-called financial compensation. The amount of this financial compensation depends on the respective flight distance.

In the case of a distance from Munich to Antalya, air passengers are entitled to a financial compensation of 400 EUR per person.

The financial compensation is not only meant to compensate inconveniences caused to the consumer, but also to exert pressure vis-à-vis the airlines in order for them to avoid cancellations, delays and denied boarding in the future.

Condor has always invoked a technical fault, which in its view is a reason per se to exonerate the airline from its liability to pay compensation.

„A technical fault only rarely leads to the actual abolition of the liability to pay compensation, namely if it may be considered as exceptional circumstance“, says Dr. Georg Rathwallner. „And even in that case, it is up to the airline to prove that it was not possible to avoid the delay although it has taken all reasonable measures.“

In the course of the negotiations, the legal representation of Condor indicated that it was not going to pay the full compensation outside court.

Only after taking legal action with the regional court of Landshut in Germany, Condor gave in and recognized its liability for compensation.

A major success, but unfortunately also a tragic example of a common problem: many airlines ignore consumers’ rights conferred by the air passenger regulation and take the view that the one who wants to assert his claims, must take legal action.

„We will use test cases to bring about behaviour changes on the part of the airlines to the benefit of consumers, if the airlines disregard consumer rights”, states Dr. Georg Rathwallner.

Further information on air passenger rights is available under ooe.konsumentenschutz.at