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Liability of Airlines for Spread of COVID-19 on International Flights

March 27, 2020 | International Flights

The 24 hour news coverage of the global pandemic caused by COVID-19 has included stories of passengers testing positive for COVID-19 after taking an international flight.

Is there any liability on the part of the airline for the spread of COVID-19 on its airplane?

Like many aspects of the law the answer is not clear cut but airlines have been held liable for the spread of communicable disease before.

The starting point is the Montreal Convention which is the latest convention setting out the law on international flights.

In order for the airline to be held liable there must have been an “accident” on board the plane or in the process of embarking or disembarking.

“Accident” has been often described by the Courts as “an unexpected unusual event or happening that is external to the passenger”.

The spread of communicable disease on a plane could meet the definition of an “accident” as long as there is some proof that the illness was contracted on the plane.

If you live in British Columbia and have contracted COVID-19 after taking an international flight please contact Paul Warnett at 604-737-3300 to discuss your legal options.

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