The European Court of Justice issues decision today on ‘extraordinary circumstances’ for airline delays

July 12, 2011 at 11:43 am | Posted in Aviation Law Current Event | Leave a comment

by Sara M. Langston with the blog faculty

ECJ decision: Andrejs Eglitis & Edvards Atnieks v. Latvija Republikas Ekonomikas ministrija, European Court of Justice (Third Chamber) (12 May 2011)

Air Passenger Rights blog – The European Court on ‘extraordinary circumstances’

On 14 July 2006, passengers for the Air Baltic flight from Copenhagen to Riga, departure time 20.35, had boarded the aircraft when Swedish air space in the Malmö region was closed as a result of failures in the power supply. This led to a breakdown in radars and air navigation systems and prevented the aircraft from taking off. At 22.45 the passengers were told that the flight was cancelled.

Two passengers, Mr Eglītis and Mr Ratnieks, brought a compensation claim against Air Baltic. They submitted that the reason for the cancellation was not the closure of Swedish air space but rather the expiry of the permitted working hours for the crew of that flight. Four years after the cancellation, the Latvian Supreme Court asked the European Court whether the cancellation was caused by extraordinary circumstances.

The European Court said that an air carrier must implement all reasonable measures to avoid extraordinary circumstances. Therefore, at the stage of organising the flight, it must take account of the risk of delay connected to the possible occurrence of such circumstances. It must, consequently, provide for a certain reserve time to allow it, if possible, to operate the flight in its entirety once the extraordinary circumstances have come to an end.  [more]



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