British Airway’s home court rules airline must compensation for flight cancellation due to pilot illness

Uxbridge County Court have awarded passengers travelling with BA on 15 August 2017 £519.95 each after their flight from Nice to London Heathrow was cancelled due to the pilot calling in sick.  Hayward Baker represented Mr B at the hearing.  Mr B had an onward flight to Miami and was severely delayed as a result of the first flight cancellation.

Mr B instructed Hayward Baker to bring a claim for compensation arising out of EU Regulation 261/2004.  The airline sought to defend the claim on the basis that the pilot going sick was an “extraordinary circumstance” however the Court roundly rejected this argument with the court saying that:

Illness of employees is inherent in the normal exercise of the activity of the carrier

Because the Court found it was part and parcel of the airline’s operation to deal with employee absence this could not be considered an “extraordinary” event and so the claim succeeded.

There is no binding authority yet on whether airlines have to pay compensation for delayed or cancelled flights due to employee sickness. However Hayward Baker recently fought this issue at the Court of Appeal in the case of Lipton v BA City Flyer. The Court’s decision will be binding and is due in a matter of weeks. If successful this will open the airlines up to having to pay out on cases where the delay or cancellation was caused by one of the crew being sick. Claims will be able to be made for flights going forward and any cases within the last 6 years. Airlines have repeatedly tried to argue that they did not have to pay compensation for these events and so if successful a large number of claims will need to be reassessed.


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British Airway’s home court rules airline must compensation for flight cancellation due to pilot illness
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