The Supreme Court has refused Emirates the right to appeal a decision that makes airlines liable to compensate passengers for missed connections outside the EU.

Emirates was fighting a Court of Appeal decision in a test case brought by four passengers against the airline. The Supreme Court stated that the carrier’s appeal did not raise an arguable point of law because the EU Court of Justice had already given a clear decision.

The Supreme Court ruling reaffirms that passengers are entitled to compensation for missed connections according to the length of delay in arriving at their final destination, regardless if their end point or connecting airport are in or outside the EU.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said the decision confirms its interpretation of EC 261/2004, a regulation for flight compensation. The authority says it will progress its enforcement action against Emirates for failing to compensate passengers, urging the airline to pay the passengers immediately.

Andrew Haines, chief executive at the CAA, said: “Emirates’ priority should be looking after its passengers, not finding ways in which they can prevent passengers accessing their rights. They have failed in their attempts to overturn the Court of Appeal judgement, which now means that millions of pounds worth of compensation is due to its customers. It is time for Emirates to pay what is owed.

“These types of court cases can be avoided when airlines commit to the Alternative Dispute Resolution scheme, to ensure a legally binding resolution to any disputed complaints about delays, cancellations and baggage. 35 airlines have already committed to ADR covering almost 80 per cent of UK passenger journeys. This case highlights why it is so important for Emirates and other remaining airlines to follow suite in the interests of their passengers.”

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