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Aviation

Sudden illness was an unusual circumstance

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Legal news
calendar 22 May 2024
globus Norway

A passenger demanded compensation for a delayed flight. The delay was due to sudden illness among the cabin crew and Coronavirus-related factors. The court concluded that it was an extraordinary circumstance which made it impossible to complete the journey.

A flight was delayed by more than three hours due to a delay in a previous rotation. At the earlier rotation, a cabin crew member fell ill 45 minutes before departure. This created challenges as there were not enough substitutes available due to high absenteeism caused by a significant Coronavirus outbreak. A total of 94 cabin crew members were on sick leave that day.

A surprising outbreak

Usually, illness in the air carrier’s cabin crew is not considered an unusual circumstance, as it is part of the air carrier’s normal operations. However, in this case, the Norwegian court found that the high absenteeism among the cabin crew due to Coronavirus was a circumstance beyond the air carrier’s control. The suddenness of the illness was crucial to the court's decision.

Although Coronavirus was well known in 2022, the sudden outbreak of the omicron variant made absenteeism so unpredictable that they could not have anticipated it in advance.

IUNO's opinion

The case confirms that sudden illness is recognised as an extraordinary circumstance that makes it impossible to complete the journey. If the air carrier has taken all reasonable measures, passengers cannot claim compensation.

IUNO recommends that air carriers be aware that illness among cabin crew can only be considered an unusual circumstance in particular situations.

[Judgment of the Forliksråd on December 14, 2023, in case F2023-026881]

A flight was delayed by more than three hours due to a delay in a previous rotation. At the earlier rotation, a cabin crew member fell ill 45 minutes before departure. This created challenges as there were not enough substitutes available due to high absenteeism caused by a significant Coronavirus outbreak. A total of 94 cabin crew members were on sick leave that day.

A surprising outbreak

Usually, illness in the air carrier’s cabin crew is not considered an unusual circumstance, as it is part of the air carrier’s normal operations. However, in this case, the Norwegian court found that the high absenteeism among the cabin crew due to Coronavirus was a circumstance beyond the air carrier’s control. The suddenness of the illness was crucial to the court's decision.

Although Coronavirus was well known in 2022, the sudden outbreak of the omicron variant made absenteeism so unpredictable that they could not have anticipated it in advance.

IUNO's opinion

The case confirms that sudden illness is recognised as an extraordinary circumstance that makes it impossible to complete the journey. If the air carrier has taken all reasonable measures, passengers cannot claim compensation.

IUNO recommends that air carriers be aware that illness among cabin crew can only be considered an unusual circumstance in particular situations.

[Judgment of the Forliksråd on December 14, 2023, in case F2023-026881]

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