(CN) – Europe’s highest court dealt a blow to holiday travelers Wednesday, ruling that passengers on a canceled flight to Greece must look to their booking agent, not the airline, for reimbursement.
The case arose in March 2015 when three individuals — all of whom are identified in Wednesday’s ruling only by their initials — booked return flights to Greece through Hellas Travel BV, a Dutch tour company.
Every Friday between May and September of that year, the Cyprus-based G.S. Charter was supposed to have an allocation of seats on Aegean Airlines flights between Eelde, Netherlands, and Corfu, Greece.
Though the Hellas passengers had paid for three of those seats as part of a July package tour, Hellas informed them a few days before departure that their package tour had been canceled.
The letter from Hellas attributed the cancellation to “uncertainties surrounding the situation in Greece” at that time, and the tour company was declared insolvent on Aug. 3, 2016, without ever reimbursing the passengers for the cost of their tickets.
In the Netherlands, meanwhile, the Noord-Nederland District Court found Aegean Airlines liable to passengers HQ, IP and JO for the flight cancellation. The passengers also sought reimbursement of their ticket costs, but the Dutch court put this issue on hold to get input from Europe’s highest court, the Court of Justice.
On Wednesday, that court’s Third Chamber ruled that such relief is not possible since it might lead to overcompensation.
“Article 8(2) of Regulation No 261/2004 must be interpreted as meaning that a passenger who, under Directive 90/314, has the right to hold his tour organizer liable for reimbursement of the cost of his air ticket, can no longer claim reimbursement of the cost of that ticket from the air carrier, on the basis of that regulation, even where the tour organizer is financially incapable of reimbursing the cost of the ticket and has not taken any measures to guarantee such reimbursement,” the opinion out of Luxembourg states.