Delayed airline passengers lost a major battle at the European Court on Friday, as a top judge ruled in favour of airline bosses who had argued flights delayed or cancelled because of a ‘bird strike’ on an aircraft are an ‘extraordinary circumstance’.

Under European regulations, airlines do not have to pay-out compensation to passengers who have been delayed as a result of an ‘extraordinary circumstance’, which is deemed to be any situation where the cause for the delay or cancellation is outside of the control of the airline.

Despite the fact that there were 1665 confirmed bird strikes in the UK in 2015 alone, with a further 267 near misses and 829 unconfirmed cases, the judge ruled that incidents were ‘extraordinary’ and therefore airlines should not have to compensate passengers delayed as a result.

EU claim predicts that the ruling will save the airline industry £60 million this year, based on the number of claims on hold while the court has been considering the case.