Since the Belgian headquartered company Claim it (www.claimit.eu) extended its services to Israel, many Israelis turned to Claim it in order to claim compensations due under EU Regulation 261/2004 in case of flight cancellation, delay of 3 hours or more, or boarding denial.
Quite surprisingly, in cases concerning El Al, Claim it has found itself, on many occasions, in situations where, for the same flight, the same inconvenience, El Al accepted to pay the compensation for European passengers while refusing to pay it for Israeli passengers, thus discriminating passengers with the same nationality (residence) as the airline.
Given that the consumer’s protection must be respected and that discrimination couldn’t be accepted, Claim it filed many law suits, all around Europe, in order to condemn El Al to pay the compensations that were due to our customers.
First, a German court confirmed the rights of Israeli passengers to act in front of a German court and to request the application of the European Regulation.
Then, a Dutch court confirmed the position of the German lawyer and condemned El Al to pay the compensation due under European law.
Though Claim it had already in its possession positive decisions in Germany and in The Netherlands, El Al maintained its discriminating strategy for flights departing from France.
In consequence, Claim it filed law suits against El Al before a French court.
Given the negative case law in Germany and in The Netherlands, and given that El Al has many customers flying from and to France, El Al took one of the best lawyers in Paris, Bernard Bessis, specialized in aviation law, in order to counter its passenger’s claims.
Hereunder decisions rendered on the 28th of June by a French court in connection with four cases that Claim it took to court for its customers against El Al:
The French judge confirms that he has territorial competence and that the European regulation, in this case Regulation 261/2004, does apply to Israeli passengers who have travelled with an Israeli airline and that, consequently, these passengers are entitled to the compensation provided for by the regulation in the event of cancellation, delay of 3 hours or more, or denied boarding.
El Al’s argument that the French court isn’t competent for a litigation involving El Al and that the European regulation does not apply when the contract of carriage is concluded between an airline whose headquarters are in a non-EU country and a passenger who is residing in a non-EU country were considered by the judge as non-valid arguments.
El Al has also tried to argue that the inconveniences incurred by their passengers were due to extraordinary circumstances. However, the judge waived these arguments as the circumstances mentioned by the airline were to be considered as normal risks for an airline and, thus, not a reason for not paying compensations. Of course, this is not a surprise as it is in line with earlier decisions of the European Court of Justice and most European Courts.
Claim it is satisfied that it is, once again, confirmed that Israeli passengers who are experiencing an inconvenience falling within the scope of Regulation No 261/2004 now know that they can benefit from European protective rules if they act before a European court, no matter which airline they used.
As it was already the case in Germany and in The Netherlands, these sentences strengthen the position of Claim it and make us confident for positive outcomes for Israeli passengers.
Obviously, it goes without saying that the logic behind these judgments should apply to other airlines based in a third country to the European Union.
Many other cases in which El Al decided not to pay for Israeli passengers, were brought to court by Claim it in Croatia, Hungary, Bulgaria etc. and are still ongoing.
Claim it is confident that, with the judicial decisions rendered in favour of its customers up until this day, El Al will be forced to review its position regarding compensation of Israeli passengers.