Bordonaro c. Voyages David Inc. et Alitalia Airlines: Liability for Delay under the Montreal Convention

In a Quebec Small Claims Court decision, Bordonaro c. Voyages David Inc. et Alitalia Airlines, it was ruled that an airline was not liable to passengers for an over three hour flight delay.  The plaintiff purchased tickets for his children who were to fly from Bari to Rome and then from Rome to Montreal.  The Alitalia flight from Bari to Rome was delayed and thus, the plaintiff’s children were unable to board the return flight to Montreal on time.  The plaintiff was forced to buy two additional tickets for their return to Quebec and sought reimbursement for this expense.

Article 19 of the Montreal Convention states that an air carrier will not be liable for damages for delay if it can show that it took all reasonable measures to avoid the delay or that it would be impossible for it, given the circumstances, to take such measures.  Previous decisions, such as Durand v. Sunwing Vacations, have shown that if an air carrier fails to satisfy this burden of proof, the Court will find the air carriers liable for the delay.

Alitalia showed that a mechanical problem was identified shortly prior to the scheduled departure and was dealt with expeditiously.  Nevertheless, despite Alitalia’s best efforts, the flight was delayed for approximately three hours.  The Court deemed this to be a case of force majeure for which Alitalia could not be held liable.  The Court dismissed the action without costs.

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