Airlines to pay for flight schedule change
Kathmandu, May 20
In a major precedent setting verdict, the Supreme Court has ordered that an airlines company bears the responsibility of compensating passengers if flight is delayed due to negligence of the company.
In a compensation case filed by mediaperson Ghamaraj Luitel against Yeti Airlines Pvt Ltd, the SC upheld Patan Appellate Court’s September 23, 2010, verdict in which it had ordered the company to pay a compensation of Rs 1,000 to Luitel against the claim of Rs 126,000. The SC prepared the full text of the verdict today.
Luitel had filed a case at Compensation Committee under Consumer Protection Act, stating that he was supposed to fly with Yeti Airlines from Biratnagar to Kathmandu at 3:00pm on March 8, 2007, but he could fly only at 5:00pm and suffered monetary loss due to delayed flight.
He also stated that on March 1, 2007, when he was scheduled to fly with Yeti Airlines at 9:00am, he reached TIA for the Biratnagar bound flight at 8.30am, but the flight had already taken off.
Although the Compensation Committee quashed Luitel’s case on June 17, 2009, Patan Appellate Court upheld it on September 8, 2010.
The SC stated that while an airlines company’s decision to delay a flight due to a situation beyond its control could be justified, the company’s decision to change the flight schedule recklessly could not be justified. “There must be a reasonable ground to change scheduled flights,” the apex court stated in its verdict.
It observed that the passenger was not given prior information about change in the flight schedule. “It is the primary duty of the airlines company to operate flights on scheduled time. Schedule should not be changed and if it has to be changed in unavoidable circumstances, the passengers should be informed of the same,” the SC observed in its verdict. It added that the airlines company could not claim that it had the power to change flight schedule just to gain benefit.
The court directed the government to fix the amount of compensation for unjustified changes in flight schedules. It told the government to prepare criteria for qualitative air travel.
Yeti Airlines had argued that there was no law that could obligate an airlines company to pay compensation for delayed flights and in this case, the passenger had not followed the terms and conditions of the flight ticket. The SC observed that the company had not stated the terms and conditions clearly.