Emirates had argued that the EU261 regulation, which gives compensation to passengers affected by delayed flights, should not apply when customers miss a connecting leg of their journey in Dubai because of a delay to the first leg of their trip from the UK.
But this was rejected by the Court of Appeal which means that airlines will still have to pay compensation of up to €600 if passengers arrive in their final destination at least three hours late, regardless of whether the destination is inside or outside the EU.
The CAA intervened in the case “to help protect consumers’ rights” and it now believes this ruling “provides clarity for both consumers and airlines”.
The authority launched enforcement action against five non-EU airlines in February for not paying compensation to delayed passengers, including Emirates. The others were Turkish Airlines, American Airlines, Etihad and Singapore Airlines.
Andrew Haines, chief executive of the CAA, said: “This ruling sends a clear message to Emirates and the other airlines that have used protracted legal processes to prolong their refusal to give consumers their legal entitlement.
“Any flight disruption is frustrating but delays that cause passengers to miss a connecting flight have a particularly damaging effect on people’s travel plans.
“For a family of four this compensation could be worth as much as €2,400 and we will not hesitate to take further action if airlines fail to comply.”
An Emirates spokesperson said it was “very disappointed” by the Court of Appeal ruling and added that it was “currently seeking legal advice on our options”.
“Our commitment to excellent customer service will not be compromised and we will continue to always put the safety of our passengers and crew first, going above and beyond to ensure that any disruption caused are kept to a minimum,” said the spokesperson.
“As one of the world’s largest airlines, we have always complied rigorously with all legal requirements and regulations as set by the relevant authorities and these findings today will not impact this commitment.”