A catering vehicle clipped the wing of a Thai Airways A380-800 in Paris, forcing an expensive flight cancellation.
Perhaps the catering truck that rolled up to the Thai Airways superjumbo jet on Wednesday at Charles de Gaulle (CDG) was running behind schedule. In any case, it ran right into the aircraft it was supposed to cater…
The damage was minor, but Thai was forced to cancel TG931, stranding over 400 passengers. Some were rebooked, but most were given hotel and meal accommodations and forced to remain in Paris an extra day. After undergoing repairs, the flight took off today.
Practically, who will pay this bill? Certainly, the quick answer is the catering company, but the answer is likely more complicated.
Referring to the accident, Thai Airways said:
Thai Airways International will go into a process of financial compensation for the damage caused by the food delivery firm.
That’s rather ambiguous, isn’t it? Thai Airways has already had to front the cost of hotel and meal expenses. What about EU 261/2004?
Article 5 of this regulation states:
An operating air carrier shall not be obliged to pay compensation in accordance with Article 7, if it can prove that the cancellation is caused by extraordinary circumstances which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken.
In Wallentin-Hermann v Alitalia—Linee Aeree Italiane SpA (Case C-549/07), the European Court of Justice (ECJ) held that an airline must prove that the “extraordinary circumstances” exception was “beyond its actual control”.
In Germanwings GmbH v. Ronny Henning (C-452/13), the ECJ held:
Even in the event of a flight cancellation on account of unforeseen technical problems, air carriers are required to compensate passengers.
However, certain technical problems resulting, in particular, from hidden manufacturing defects affecting the safety of flights or acts of sabotage or terrorism may exempt air carriers from their obligation to pay compensation.
So where does this flight fall? My guess is Thai will not have to cough up 600EUR to each passenger.
But I also bet that Thai will have to fight the catering company to get its money back. Why? Because every business owner knows what it is like to chase someone who owes you money…
How annoying this delay must have been to both passengers and Thai Airways. Thankfully, the damage was minimal and no one was injured.
image: Anna Zvereva / Flickr