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Aviation regulator bans Boeing jet model from UK airspace - what you need to know

The UK's aviation regulator has banned all Boeing 737 Max jets from UK airspace after an Ethiopian Airlines plane was involved in a fatal accident over the weekend.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) says it has issued instructions to stop any commercial passenger flights using the model from arriving, departing or flying over UK airspace.

Tui Airways, which has the only five 737 Max aircraft operated by a UK-based airline and was due to begin flying a sixth later this week, said other aircraft would be used instead.

Budget airline Norwegian also operates flights to and from the UK using the model, and has warned there could be some disruption.

Will there be any disruption to flights?

TUI Airways suggested the move by the CAA would not cause major disruption, but could cause some minor delays.

It said: "Any customers due to fly home today on a 737 MAX 8 from their holiday will be flown back on another aircraft.

"Customers due to travel in the coming days will also travel on holiday as planned on other aircraft. The safety and well-being of our customers and staff has remained our primary concern."

Norwegian, however, has warned of delays and cancellations. 

Tomas Hesthammer, Norwegian's acting chief operating officer, said: "In response to the temporary suspension of Being 737 MAX operations by multiple aviation authorities we have taken the decision to not operate flights using this aircraft type, until advised otherwise by the relevant aviation authorities.

"We would like to apologise to customers for any inconvenienced caused, however, safety will always remain our top priority."

I'm due to fly - what should I do?

At the moment, Norwegian says customers should check the flight status section of its website to see if their flight will go ahead. It also says affected passengers will be informed via SMS if there is disruption.

  • If your flight is cancelled, you're entitled to a refund or a new flight, no matter the reason for cancellation. See our Flight Cancellation information. 

  • If your flight is delayed, the airline should provide care and assistance. See our Flight Delays guide for full info.

As of 3pm, all its flights to and from London-Gatwick airport for today were scheduled to go ahead as normal.

TUI Airways says passengers will be able to travel as planned, but if anything changes it will contact customers directly. 

At the moment, it's unlikely you'll be able to claim compensation if your flight is severely delayed or cancelled under EU261 flight delay law, as the CAA says where an aircraft is grounded it would be considered an extraordinary circumstance - outside of the airline's control. 

It added: "Airlines will still be required to provide care and assistance to consumers, and to reroute them to their final destination if the consumer wishes to travel, but will not be required to financially compensate them. 

"Airlines will also be required to demonstrate that they took all reasonable measures to avoid cancellations and will need to consider alternative arrangements, for instance leasing other aircraft."

But Coby Benson, flight delay compensation solicitor at Bott and Co told “If a flight is cancelled due to a model being grounded, this would be considered an extraordinary circumstance today.

"However as time goes on the airline should take reasonable measures to avoid the disruption, so by tomorrow it’s unlikely to be extraordinary and by Thursday it certainly should be claimable."

See our Flight Delays guide for full information.

What does the CAA say?

A spokesperson said: "Our thoughts go out to everyone affected by the tragic incident in Ethiopia on Sunday.

"The UK Civil Aviation Authority has been closely monitoring the situation, however, as we do not currently have sufficient information from the flight data recorder we have, as a precautionary measure, issued instructions to stop any commercial passenger flights from any operator arriving, departing or overflying UK airspace.

"The UK Civil Aviation Authority's safety directive will be in place until further notice.

"We remain in close contact with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and industry regulators globally."

Boeing said it has "full confidence in the safety of the 737 Max".

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