Airhelp Ltd v Scandinavian Airlines System Denmark – Norway – Sweden
Register number :
Applicable law/instrument :
Branch of law :
Judgement date :23/03/2021
A strike organised by a trade union of the staff of an air carrier that is intended in particular to secure pay increases does not fall within the concept of an ‘extraordinary circumstance’ capable of releasing that airline from its obligation to pay compensation for cancellation or long delay in respect of the flights concerned. That is so even if the strike is organised in compliance with the conditions laid down by national legislation.
Judgment of the Court (Grand Chamber) of 23 March 2021
Request for a preliminary ruling from the Attunda tingsrätt
Air transport – Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 – Article 5(3) – Common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of cancellation or long delay of flights – Exemption from the obligation to pay compensation – Concept of ‘extraordinary circumstances’ – Pilots’ strike organised within a legal framework – Circumstances that are ‘internal’ and ‘external’ to the operating air carrier’s activity – Articles 16, 17 and 28 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union – No impairment of the air carrier’s freedom to conduct a business, right to property and right of negotiation
Article 5(3) of Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 February 2004 establishing common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding and of cancellation or long delay of flights, and repealing Regulation (EEC) No 295/91, must be interpreted as meaning that strike action which is entered into upon a call by a trade union of the staff of an operating air carrier, in compliance with the conditions laid down by national legislation, in particular the notice period imposed by it, which is intended to assert the demands of that carrier’s workers and which is followed by a category of staff essential for operating a flight does not fall within the concept of an ‘extraordinary circumstance’ within the meaning of that provision.