The airline Finnair has tended to pay air passengers two delays for a hard-earned trip to Singapore. Over the years, in addition to the district and appellate courts, the case was heard in the European Court of Justice.
The dispute was about the events of October 2013. Finnair's flight was to depart late in the evening on 11 October to Singapore, but the flight was canceled due to a technical fault.
Finnair routed some of the passengers to the next day's flight to Singapore via Chongqing, China. The passengers' misfortune continued, as the flight to Chongqing left Helsinki on October 12, almost eight hours late, due to a fault in the rudder of the aircraft.
Due to the delay, passengers did not have time for their connecting flight in Chongqing. However, on the same day, Finnair arranged the passengers for another flight from Chongqing via Hong Kong to Singapore.
Eventually, the passengers arrived in Singapore just over midnight on October 14, nearly seven hours later than if they had had time for their first re-routed flight to Singapore.
The district court dismissed the claim for second compensation
In the District Court, eleven passengers demanded that Finnair pay them a standard fee of 600 euros with interest in accordance with EU Regulation 261/2004 for the cancellation of the original Singapore flight. Finnair conceded this claim in the course of the proceedings.
In addition, passengers demand that Finnair must also pay them 600 euros with interest for the delay of the re-routed Helsinki-Chongqing-Singapore flight. According to Finnair, the claim for another EUR 600 compensation was unfounded.
The District Court interpreted Regulation 261/2004 as meaning that passengers were not entitled to second compensation for a delay in a re-routed flight. Some of the passengers took the case to the Helsinki Court of Appeal, which asked the European Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling on how the regulation should be interpreted in such a situation.
Finnair paid the compensation after the EU decision
In March, the European Court of Justice ruled that an air passenger who has received compensation for a flight cancellation and has agreed to travel on another flight is also entitled to compensation for a delay in a re-routed flight.
Following the court's decision, Finnair paid the passengers the compensation they demanded. However, the passengers would still have liked the Court of Appeal to rule on the matter, as they said that the mere payment of benefits did not yet mean that their entitlement was clear.
The Court of Appeal noted that the passengers' action was a so-called performance action, in which they demanded the imposition of an obligation to perform as a legal sanction. As Finnair had already paid the required benefits with interest, the appellants were no longer entitled to the benefits claimed in the action. Accordingly, the Court of Appeal held that the action should be dismissed in so far as it had not been upheld by the District Court and there was therefore no need to alter the outcome of the District Court's judgment.
In addition, the Court of Appeal obliged Finnair to reimburse passengers' legal costs in the Court of Appeal and exempted passengers from paying Finnair's legal costs in the district court. The Court of Appeal delivered its decision on Thursday.