European Court: Issuing Airline responsible for compensation with wet-lease

The European Court of Justice has decided yesterday, that the ticket-issuing airline is responsible for paying the compensation when involved in a wet-lease contract with a different, flight-operating airline.

plane above the clouds during sunrise

Wet-lease contracts in commercial air traffic

Occasions where airlines rent planes and staff from other airlines continue to grow, especially during the summer, which is busy and fully planned for airlines and their fleet. Renting planes and staff is otherwise known as wet-leasing. Questions have been raised with the European Court of Justice on the subject of a wet-lease. It was unclear to passengers what airline was responsible for the flight in case of a delay or cancellation allowing them to receive compensation under Regulation 261/2004.

TUI fly and Thomson Airways wet-lease contract

Passengers had booked a flight with TUI fly from Hamburg, Germany to Cancun, Mexico. The flight was severely delayed, allowing the passengers to claim compensation from the airline. The airline conducting the flight was Thomson Airways, operating under a wet-lease contract with TUI fly. Thomson provided the plane and staff. Thomson Airways refused to take responsibility for the delay and pay the compensation that was due. Passengers were left raising the question which airline was responsible for the flight and therefor the compensation.

TUI fly performs flight despite wet-lease contract

The European Court of Justice states that TUI fly is still responsible for the flight as there is no code-share agreement but solely a wet-lease agreement, allowing a party to rent out a plane and its crew to TUI fly for performing a specific flight. Passengers had an agreement with TUI fly. TUI fly is responsible for paying the compensation. The court concludes that also In other wet-lease agreements the ticket-issuing airline is still responsible for the flight operation.

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