British Airways blames flight cancellations on Covid-19 and refuses to pay compensation

On the day British Airways canceled a further 120-plus flights to and from its main base, London Heathrow, it emerged that the airline is refusing compensation claims for grounded flights.

BA has serious resource problems that are causing the daily cancellation of many domestic and European flights.

The airline says that most passengers are informed well in advance. But if travelers receive less than two weeks’ notice, under European air passenger rights rules, they are entitled to cash compensation of between £220 and £520, depending on the length of the flight.

The only reason a carrier can deny a claim is if an “extraordinary circumstance” was responsible.

Nick Goodess was due to fly from London Heathrow to Hanover on April 24. His flight was canceled a week in advance and he applied for legal compensation.

But they told the passenger: “Your claim has been rejected because flight BA978 on April 24 was canceled as a result of the global pandemic caused by Covid-19.

“The Covid-19 pandemic is an external factor, which is beyond the control of the airline and is an ‘extraordinary circumstance’.

“It is not inherent to the normal activity of the airline and could not have been anticipated.

“As the flight cancellation was caused by restrictions imposed as a result of a global pandemic, in accordance with the provisions of EC Regulation 261/2004, I am afraid this means that you are not entitled to compensation from the EU at this time. . ”

Lawyers contacted by the independent have expressed skepticism about defending British Airways. The staffing shortage is not considered an “extraordinary circumstance”.

The claim that “the flight cancellation was caused by restrictions imposed as a result of a global pandemic” seems difficult to sustain, a legal expert said.

the independent has asked British Airways for a response on this and other aspects of the rejection. BA is still investigating the case.

On the day Goodess’s flight was cancelled, dozens of other services were operating between the UK and Germany.

While easyJet makes around 30 cancellations a day, other rivals including Jet2, Ryanair and Wizz Air are keeping their normal schedules.

A Civil Aviation Authority spokesman said: “If customers are concerned that airlines are not respecting their rights adequately, then they should make a complaint to their airline. If they are not satisfied with the response, consumers can seek redress through the approved Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service.

British Airways is registered with CEDR. Another service provider, AviationADR, sided with Ryanair in a recent denied boarding case, even though the airline did not present any defence.

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