PASSENGERS can claim only up to about 1'100 euros from airlines for losing their baggage, Europe's top court ruled yesterday in a case concerning a traveller who had sought three times as much.

The limit to carriers' liability for lost baggage is set in the Montreal Convention approved by the European Union in 2001, the Court of Justice of the 27-country EU said in a statement. “That convention provides that the liability of a carrier in the case of destruction, loss, damage or delay of baggage is limited to the sum of 1'000 Special Drawing Rights for each passenger,” equivalent to about 1'134.71 euros, it said.

Compensation could be more if a passenger had made a special declaration at the outset and paid an additional sum, the court said.
According to the Geneva-based SITA, which provides a baggage-tracking system to the air transport industry, just over 1.1 percent of checked baggage -- about 25 million bags -- failed to reach its destination in time last year.

A Spanish court had asked the Luxembourg-based Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling on a case in which a passenger had claimed 3'200 euros from airline Clickair for losing his luggage.

Clickair, a subsidiary of Spanish airline Iberia, merged with low-cost Spanish carrier Vueling in July last year.
The airline sector faces losses of up to 2.5 billion euros from last month's airspace closure due to volcanic ash from Iceland, the European Commission has estimated.