In a recent Federal Civil and Commercial Court 2 case, the plaintiffs filed a complaint for damages for a rescheduled flight after a mandatory mediation hearing ended without a settlement.(1) The plaintiffs claimed the equivalent in Argentine pesos to 4,612 special drawing rights under the Montreal Convention 1999, plus interest and legal fees.
In April 2015 the plaintiffs bought return tickets for flights from Buenos Aires to Paris in February 2016. One month before their scheduled departure date, they received an email from the airline informing them that their return flight had been cancelled and that they had been booked on a return flight leaving one day earlier. As part of their complaint, the plaintiffs stated that they had organised their holiday based on the original flight dates, including hotel bookings and car hire.
In its response to the complaint, the defendant (Aeromexico) stated that:
- the plaintiffs had been informed of the change of flight schedule one month beforehand;
- the change had been approved by the Argentine Civil Aviation Authority (ANAC); and
- the plaintiffs had accepted the change.
The court stated that in order to assign responsibility to a party, there must be:
- recoverable damage;
- a direct relationship between the damage caused and the conduct of the party that allegedly caused it;
- non-compliance with or a violation of the law; and
- clear evidence that the alleged party committed the damage.
The court added that all of the requisites must apply; otherwise, the accused is exempted from paying damages. Without an illegal action, there can be no legal responsibility for damages.
In the above case, both parties acknowledged that there had been a change of flight schedule. Aeromexico had made the change within the terms of Civil Aviation Authority Resolution 6 (ie, 48 hours before the scheduled flight ) and, as a result, the change was lawful and approved by ANAC.
Further, Aeromexico had complied with the Consumer Law 24,240 as amended by Law 26,361, which establishes that consumers must be adequately informed of changes to goods and services offered (the Aeronautical Code does not cover such matters).
The plaintiffs acknowledged that they had been informed of the change of flight schedule one month before their trip. Consequently, the court considered that their complaint should be rejected and the legal costs imposed on the losing party.
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