Bloomberg News

Spain’s Iberia Airline Loses Bid to Dismiss Passengers’ Suit

July 27, 2011

(Updates with judge’s conclusions in fourth paragraph.)

July 27 (Bloomberg) -- Spain’s Iberia airline lost a bid for dismissal of a lawsuit in which it’s accused of denying U.S. passengers European Union-mandated compensation for flight delays and cancellations.

U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow in Chicago today denied Iberia’s motion to throw out the case, filed in February by two Illinois residents whose flight to Athens in May 2010 was delayed more than 24 hours.

Iberia argued that it must compensate only for canceled flights and damages, Lefkow wrote. The airline said EU Regulation 261, requiring compensation for delays and cancellations, doesn’t apply to flights originating in the U.S. under the EU-U.S. Air Transport Agreement.

“The contracting parties only affirmed in the Air Transport Agreement the ‘importance of protecting consumers,’” Lefkow wrote. “Thus, the Air Transport Agreement does not appear to have any bearing on plaintiffs’ claim. But if it did, in suggesting that consumers should be protected and each party’s laws should be respected, it actually supports the applicability of EU 261 to plaintiffs’ flight departing from Chicago and arriving in an EU member state.”

The regulation requires carriers to pay passengers when flights to or from a member state’s airport are canceled or delayed more than three hours.

Four Cases

The suit was one of four filed in February in federal court in Chicago by U.S. passengers seeking EU-mandated compensation from Iberia, British Airways Plc, Deutsche Lufthansa AG and Delta Airlines Inc. for delays and cancellations. British Airways and Iberia combined in January to form International Consolidated Airlines Group SA.

The cases are Giannopoulos v. Iberia Lineas Aereas De Espana SA, 1:11-cv-00775, Polinovsky v. British Airways Plc, 11- cv-779, Polinovsky v. Deutsche Lufthansa AG, 11-cv-780 and Volodarskiy v. Delta Airlines Inc., 11-cv-782, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago).

--Editors: Charles Carter, Michael Hytha

To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Dolmetsch in New York at cdolmetsch@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net


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