British virtual VIP charter specialist Oryx Jet (London Luton) has demanded that Icelandair (FI, Reykjavik Keflavik) pay GBP5 million pounds (USD6.9 million) in compensation for an accident in September 2017 when an Icelandair Group employee rammed a catering vehicle into an aircraft Oryx Jet was operating.

In the incident at Reykjavik Keflavik Airport, an Icelandair Ground Services staff member was operating a service truck without the required permits, the newspaper Morgunblaðið recounted, which struck the aircraft during a routine loading of food and drinks.

As a result, the aircraft could not carry passengers from Iceland as planned and was out of service in maintenance for two months. That meant Oryx Jet lost a lucrative contract with the House of Saud, the ruling royal family of Saudi Arabia, who had arranged that the carrier transports their prized falcons, Skarphéðinn Pétursson, a lawyer representing Oryx, told the newspaper in an interview.

The lawyer claimed that Icelandair had intentionally deployed “legal gymnastics” to delay an ongoing case at the District Court of Reykjavík to force Oryx into bankruptcy. The newspaper reported that Icelandair had admitted responsibility for the incident, but it disagrees with Oryx Jet on the amount to be paid in damages.

“The damage to the aircraft itself is not what the case is about. The issue is the probable consequential damage, contracts that the company lost while the aircraft was being repaired,” Pétursson explained.

The court decided on August 11 on the questions an appointed assessor will be required to resolve - including evaluating the validity of Oryx Jet’s claim of losing the Saudi Arabian deal as a result of the collision.

Icelandair had appealed an earlier ruling at Iceland’s Court of Appeal claiming that the wording of the questions the assessor had to tackle was too misleading. The appeals court agreed, sending the case back to the district court. A new set of questions the district court has since approved are almost identical, Pétursson claimed.

“All they have accomplished is that the case has been stuck in the court system for a further five months. This is just a complete mess,” he said.

A final ruling should now emanate from the court in the second half of September.

Oryx Jet’s commercial partner, Maleth-Aero (AL, Malta Int'l), currently operates two B737-500s on behalf of the virtual carrier. Just over a month ago, Oryx retired its only B737-300, which Maleth-Aero had also operated.

Icelandair did not immediately respond to ch-aviation’s request for comment.