read the news that more than 180 passengers were asked to cough up and pay for the final leg of their journey from Vienna in Austria to Birmingham." />

Passengers Held to Ransom at Vienna Airport

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Passengers on the Comtel Air flight from India were told the airline could not take them any further unless some £24,000 was raised to re-fuel and pay for landing fees at Birmingham airport.

This is a fairly unprecedented story.  UK holidaymakers are now well accustomed to airlines going bust while they are abroad or before they travel.  There are appropriate safeguards in place to ensure holidaymakers' money is safe.  When an airline runs into financial difficulties mid-flight it would appear from this experience that the situation is not so clear cut. 

If you purchase a ticket with an airline then they are contractually obliged to get you from A to B.  If they fail to do so then you are entitled to a refund on that ticket.  Arguably, the passengers caught up in this fiasco should be entitled to re-routing to their final destination or a refund of the portion of their ticket that relates to the final leg.  Whether passengers can recover other financial losses as a result of the grounding would be subject to the airline's conditions of carriage (generally speaking such losses will not be recoverable). 

The issue here is that if Comtel Air have run out of money then they will not be worth pursuing in the Courts or otherwise.  I wait with anticipation to see what the fallout is from this bizarre situation and whether any litigation follows.

Chris Deacon

Solicitor - Claims Abroad team

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