Regulation on Compensation and Assistance for Air Passengers is valid

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the European Low Fares Airline Association (ELFAA), which represents the interests of 10 low-fare airlines from nine European countries, contested the United Kingdom’s implementation of the regulation before the High Court of Justice of England and Wales. They raised before the High Court questions concerning the validity of the regulation, in particular of the provisions relating to cancellations, delay and compensation. The High Court referred those questions to the Court of Justice of the European Communities. With regard to the compatibility of the regulation with the Montreal Convention, the Court of Justice established that this international Convention, which regulates, amongst other things, the liability of air carriers in the event of delay, binds the Community. The Court held that the assistance and ‘care’ for passengers prescribed by the Community regulation in the event of a long delay to a flight constituted standardised and immediate compensatory measures. They were not among the measures whose institution is regulated by the Convention and cannot therefore be considered inconsistent with the Montreal Convention. With regard to compliance with the obligation to state reasons and observance of the principle of legal certainty, the Court stated that the provisions of the regulation that are at issue lay down precisely and clearly the obligations owed by air carriers, clearly disclose the essential objective pursued and are unambiguous. With regard to observance of the principle of proportionality, the Court held that the compensation which passengers may claim when they have been informed of a flight cancellation too late did not appear manifestly inappropriate to the objective pursued, given the existence of a ground for exemption upon which carriers may rely and of the conditions restricting the application of this obligation on carriers. With regard to observance of the principle of equal treatment, the Court held that the situation of undertakings operating in each of the different transport sectors was not comparable. Passengers whose flights are cancelled or subject to a long delay were in an objectively different situation from that of passengers on other means of transport in the event of incidents of the same nature. The Court concluded, therefore, that its examination had revealed no factor of such a kind as to affect the validity of the provisions of the regulation that are at issue. (PRESS RELEASE No 1/06 of the ECJ; see

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