German Court: El Al Must Pay Passengers For Delayed Flights

A German court has ruled that El Al Airlines must pay passengers when its flights are delayed by three hours or more, according to the Globes business news website.

The decision was handed down in response to a lawsuit filed by the Belgium/Dutch website, “Claim It” in which an El Al flight departed from Frankfurt on March 3, 2016 more than three hours after its scheduled departure time, heading for Tel Aviv. The website takes a 25 percent fee for its services on behalf of the passenger.

“Claim It” wrote to the airline on behalf of an Israeli passenger, but El Al responded that the traveler was not entitled to compensation due to his citizenship status.

The website then sued the airline in the Frankfurt court, which ruled in favor of the passenger.

CEO Ralph Pais said that in the past, the airline has responded to the website’s claims on behalf of European passengers, “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.

“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.”

El Al has maintained in the pasts the Israelis are not entitled to compensation unless the flight was delayed by eight hours or more, under the Israeli “Tibi Law.” The three-hour restriction is a European Union law, and the airline has insisted that Israeli citizens are not entitled to compensation under the regulation because they are not EU citizens.

According to the Frankfurt ruling, El Al must compensate passengers based on flight distance: 250 euros for flights up to 1,500 kilometers; 400 euros for flights of 1,500 to 3,500 kilometers, and 600 euros for flights longer than 3,500 kilometers.

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