El Al Forced to Compensate Passengers for Hours-late Flight

Duch court applies European law to case, gives 400-euro award each to two passengers

An El Al airplane.
Nir Elias/Reuters

An Amsterdam court ruled that in keeping with European law, El Al must compensate two Israeli passengers whose flight from Amsterdam to Tel Aviv arrived more than three hours late.

Lawyers from the company Claim It, which had represented the Israeli passengers, argued that European Union legislation mandated that passengers whose flights to or from Europe are delayed by more than three hours should receive compensation.

The travelers sued for 400 euros each, plus interest and legal costs.

El Al had argued that the case was not subject to European regulations, but rather to Israeli law. Israeli law states that travelers whose flights are more than two hours late are entitled to food and drink. Delays of five hours or more bring a partial or full refund of the ticket price, while a delay of eight hours or more is considered a cancellation and merits compensation.

The Amsterdam court disagreed, stating that it did have jurisdiction over the case, due to a precedent set by another Dutch court which noted that El Al has offices in the country.

El Al had also tried to argue that even if it was subject to European law, it did not apply to this particular case, as the delay had been caused by an electrical failure on the previous route flown by that airplane, from Paris to Tel Aviv. The court rejected that argument, too.

The court ordered El Al to pay the passengers 400 euros each, plus 515 euros in court costs and interest.

El Al stated that it accepted the court’s ruling.