European Court of Justice: air carrier must reasonably take account of the risk of delay and provide for a certain reserve time

Upon reference by the Augstākās Tiesas Senāts (Latvia), the ECJ has today intrepreted Reg. 261/2004 as follows:Article 5(3) of Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 must be interpreted as meaning that an air carrier, since it is obliged to implement all reasonable measures to avoid extraordinary circumstances, must reasonably, at the stage of organising the flight, 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. However, that provision cannot be interpreted as requiring, as a ‘reasonable measure’, provision to be made, generally and without distinction, for a minimum reserve time applicable in the same way to all air carriers in all situations when extraordinary circumstances arise. The assessment of the ability of the air carrier to operate the programmed flight in its entirety in the new conditions resulting from the occurrence of those circumstances must be carried out in such a way as to ensure that the length of the required reserve time does not result in the air carrier being led to make intolerable sacrifices in the light of the capacities of its undertaking at the relevant time. Article 6(1) of that regulation is not applicable in the context of such an assessment.Full text of judgement C‑294/10 – Eglitis and Ratnieks v. Latvijas Republikas Ekonomikas ministrija availabel here>>.

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