ECJ Advocate General: no temporal or monetary limitation of the obligation to provide care to air passengers

In his opinion in case C-12/11 – McDonagh v Ryanair, delivered on 22.03.2012, ECJ Advocate General Bot came to the conclusion that circumstances such as the closure of airspace owing to the eruption of a volcano constitute extraordinary circumstances for the purposes of Reg. 261/2004. Additionally, the EU legislation does not imply any limitation – temporal or monetary – of the obligation to provide care (accommodation, meals, refreshments) to the passengers.According to the Advocate General, that finding cannot call into question the validity of the EU legislation in relation to the principles of proportionality or non-discrimination. It does not appear to be disproportionate to impose on air carriers such an obligation to provide care in so far as they are free to pass on the resulting costs to airline ticket prices. What is more, that is a policy which has already been put into effect by Ryanair, which introduced a special levy in April 2011 in order to cover the costs which it had incurred in providing care to passengers whose flights had been cancelled owing to the eruption of the Icelandic volcano.Nor, in the view of the Advocate General, does the obligation to provide care conflict with the general principle of non-discrimination, because the various modes of transport are not interchangeable as regards conditions of use.Source: ECJ press release 32/12Find full text of opinion here>>.A video of the court session is available here>>.

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