The European Court of Justice Has Strengthened The Rights of Passengers


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According to a ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ), airlines may also be obliged to pay compensation to passengers in the event of wild strikes.

The Luxembourg judges ruled on Tuesday that airlines are not automatically exempt from their obligation to pay compensation in the event of flight cancellations or delays due to unlawful work stoppages under collective bargaining agreements. Rather, decisions must be taken on a case-by-case basis.

The background to the trial was the wild strike by Tuifly employees in autumn 2016, which resulted in more than 100 flights being cancelled, while many others were delayed considerably. Since then, those affected have tried to sue the German courts for compensation payments. Their chances should now have improved significantly.

The ECJ judges argued that airlines could be exempt from reimbursement under two conditions. Firstly, the event that led to operational incapacity should not be part of normal operations. Secondly, the disruptive event should be beyond the airline’s control.

In view of the events at Tuifly 2016, the judges have found this was not the case. The company had previously announced surprising restructuring measures. Conflicts with employees are not unusual. The situation in autumn 2016 should therefore be regarded as part of normal business activity. In addition, the wild strike was not beyond the control of Tuifly – it ended a few days later after an agreement was reached between the company and the works’ council.

Tuifly, however, reacted in disappointment to the outcome.: “We respect the court’s opinion,” said a Tuifly spokesman for the German Press Agency. “Nevertheless, we stand by our view that we cannot sufficiently prepare ourselves for such wild strikes.” With regard to the outstanding proceedings in Germany, he said: “We will now explain what preparations we have made in each individual case.”