El Al Stalls on EU Late-Flight Compensation Order

(Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

El Al Airlines is fighting a European Union directive to pay compensation to passengers whose departures were delayed three hours or more, claiming that the European law does not apply to it, Globes reported Monday.

Citing Israeli regulations granting compensation only for delays of at least eight hours, El Al has so far refused to pay Israeli passengers delayed in European departures, even though European passengers were compensated according to EU law.

A German court ordered El Al to pay the passengers for the inconvenience two months ago, in response to a lawsuit filed by the Belgium-based website Claimit, which sues on behalf of passengers. The court ruled that the Israeli carrier discriminated against Israeli passengers by not paying compensation to them as they did to non-Israelis.

Compensation varies according to the length of the flight: €250 ($262) for flights of less than 1,500 kilometers (932 miles) to €400 ($419) for flights of 1,500–3,500 kilometers (2,175 miles) and up to €600 ($629) in compensation for flights of more than 3,500 kilometers. All airlines departing from a European airport must grant compensation in such cases. The law does not apply to flights by non-European airlines landing at destinations in Europe, if they took off from airports outside Europe, for example a flight from Tel Aviv landing in Paris.

Claimit founder and CEO Ralph Pais contends that the amount of money at stake is substantial, the obvious reason for El Al’s recalcitrance.

“According to our calculation, if El Al passengers sue the company for delays in flights that took off from Europe during the past two years, it will have to pay 300 million shekels,” Pais said.

El Al said in response, “El Al operates according to the law. The law applying in Israel, in particular the Aviation Services Law (Compensation and Assistance for Flight Cancellation or Change of Conditions) – 2012, restricts the right to monetary compensation to delays of over eight hours.”