Compensation is due even in case of delay after wildcat strikes

In a new judgment, the European Court says that wildcat strikes following the surprise announcement of a restructuring are not an extraordinary circumstance. Airlines therefore have to pay compensation in case of delay / cancellation due to wildcat strikes.

Wild strikes have so far often been regarded as 'extraordinary circumstance', as a result of which the airlines did not feel obliged to pay compensation. It is therefore important news that the European Court contradicts this. The Court says that an airline can foresee that a strike will follow if they take certain unexpected measures. It is therefore their own responsibility if there are delays or cancellations.


This judgment came in a case against TUIfly but from now on also applies to similar situations with other airlines. On September 30, 2016, the management of the German airline TUIfly unexpectedly announced that it would restructure the company. A large number of employees immediately reported sick (= wildcat strike), with delays of more than 3 hours as a result. For 3 hours delay and more, passengers are entitled to a compensation of € 250 to € 600, depending on the distance of the flight.

Retroactive and limitation period

If, in the past you did not receive compensation in similar circumstances, you can still file a claim as long as it has not yet expired. Depending on where your flight departed (or arrived), the limitation period is different: 

  • Belgium: 1 year
  • Germany: 3 years
  • The Netherlands: 2 years
  • France: 5 years

Legal certainty

Happy Flights is happy with this statement, because the more clarity there is, the less chance of discussion with the airline.

If you file a claim with us, we always investigate whether there are unforeseen circumstances. We will let you know as soon as possible whether your claim is admissible or not.

Literally: the most important passage from the judgment:

A ‘wildcat strike’ by flight staff following the surprise announcement of a restructuring does not constitute an ‘extraordinary circumstance’ , releasing the airline from its obligation to pay compensation in the event of cancellation or long delay of flight.

The risks arising from the social consequences that go with such measures are inherent in the normal exercise of the airline’s activity.

Happy Flights legal
Peter Van Hende