FRANKFURT Feb 15 Travel and tourism group TUI
must pay passengers compensation over disruptions to
German flights because of crew members calling in sick in
October, a court in Hanover ruled on Wednesday.
The court found in favour of two parties who had sued over
delays and a cancellation, ordering TUI to pay them 800 euros
($844) and 2,000 euros respectively, plus interest.
The staff shortages in October followed TUI's announcement
of plans to put its German TUIfly airline into a new leisure
airline joint venture with parts of Air Berlin,
sparking employee concern over potential job cuts and worsening
Many pilots and crew called in sick, forcing TUIfly to
cancel dozens of flights during what was a school holiday period
for some German federal states, including the one in which
TUIfly is based.
TUI's staff returned to work when the company offered to
keep pay and conditions unchanged for three years.
The company has refunded the cost of holidays that were
cancelled but more than 600 complaints have been filed at the
Hanover court by customers seeking additional compensation under
European Union rules.
TUI has said that the circumstances were beyond its control
so it shouldn't have to pay the compensation.
The court said on Wednesday that TUIfly did not present
sufficient evidence to prove that its workers had staged a
wildcat strike and did not show that it took all reasonable
measures to avoid flight delays.
The ruling does not have any binding effect on the
outstanding complaints against TUI.
TUI said on Tuesday that it had incurred costs of 22 million
euros as a result of the disruption from workers' sick leave.
It also said it was still in talks with Air Berlin
shareholder Etihad and the authorities over the proposed venture
and that it would hopefully start in time for the winter flying
season from October.
($1 = 0.9475 euros)
(Reporting by Maria Sheahan; Editing by David Goodman)