Aviation update | April 2023

3 April, 2022

An Israeli District Court ruled for the first time: Wildcat strike may be considered “special circumstance” which would exempt airlines from providing monetary compensation for flight cancellations.

Pilots of an airline started a wildcat strike, which ultimately led to numerous flight cancellations. Does a wildcat strike exempt the airline from providing monetary compensation for a cancelled flight under the Israeli Aviation Services Law (ISL)?

Are passengers entitled to compensation only under the ISL and/or the Montreal Convention or can they also sue compensation under Israeli General Laws (contract law; tort law etc.)? These questions were recently answered by the District Court, which denied a motion to certify a class action.

The plaintiff filed a motion to certify a class action suit against one of our clients, claiming that the airline’s flight had been cancelled, not due to a wildcat strike, as the airline argued, but rather due to the airline having a shortage of pilots.

The plaintiff then claimed that the airline allegedly sold flight tickets without having any pilots assigned to them. The claim was based on Israel’s Consumer Protection Law, Contract Law and Torts Ordinance.

On March 16, 2023, the District Court denied the plaintiff’s motion to certify a class action, inter alia, for the following reasons;

First, under the “exclusive cause of action rule” provided by the Montreal Convention, in the case of flight cancellations, the plaintiff can only sue the airline under the ISL or the Montreal Convention. However, in this case, the plaintiff based its cause of action on the Israeli General Law.

Second, the plaintiff failed to prove its allegation for a “chronic” shortage of pilots – a claim that requires an expert opinion that was not filed by the plaintiff.

Moreover, as a side note, the District Court ruled, for the first time, that even if the plaintiff would hold a cause of action and sue compensation under the ISL, then the airline would still be exempted from compensation, as a wildcat strike constitutes “special circumstances”  that is exempted under the ISL. 

For further information on this topic please contact Hanital Belinson-Navon, Roy Masuri at Arnon, Tadmor-Levy by telephone (+972 3 684 6000). The Arnon, Tadmor-Levy website can be accessed at www.arnontl.com.

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