European Court of Justice: Advocate General Sharpston suggests reopen oral procedure on whether Articles of Regulation 261/2004 (EC) are invalid

In Cases C-402/07 -Sturgeon and C-432/07 – Böck both related to the destinction of cancellation and (extra) long delay according to Reg. 261/2004, Advocate General Sharpston in her opinion delivered this morning pointed out that in the course of the legislative process, regardless the importance there does not appear to have been a strong focus on that distinction, particularly once the levels of compensation had been reduced. In the text as finally adopted, it was difficult to deduce the criteria for distinguishing between ‘cancellation’ and ‘delay’.She suggested thatBefore ruling on the questions posed by the Bundesgerichtshof and the first and second questions posed by the Handelsgericht Wien, the Court should reopen the oral procedure pursuant to Article 61 of the Rules of Procedure and invite submissions from the Member States, the Commission, the European Parliament, and the Council on whether Articles 5 and 7 and Article 6 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, inasmuch as they draw a distinction between cancellation and delay (irrespective of length), are invalid in the light of the principle of equal treatment.In regard to the excuse of extraordinary circumstances and technical problems she re-affirmed:Article 5(3) of Regulation No 261/2004 must be interpreted as meaning that a technical problem in an aircraft which leads to the cancellation of a flight is not covered by the concept of ‘extraordinary circumstances’ within the meaning of that provision, unless that problem stems from events which, by their nature or origin, are not inherent in the normal exercise of the activity of the air carrier concerned and are beyond its actual control.Full text of opinion available here>>.

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