Volume 36 (2011) / Issue 4/5
In Sturgeon, the European Court of Justice considered that EC Regulation 261/2004 on Air Passenger Rights breaches the principle of equal treatment. It held that air passengers with a delay of three hours or more have a right to compensation, unless the airline can prove that the delay was caused by extraordinary circumstances.
After a brief look into how airlines generally perform with regards to their obligations under Regulation 261/2004 (section 1), I will summarize the Sturgeon decision as it was handed down by the European Court (section 2), set out the airlines' response to Sturgeon, which amounts to a boycott of the European Court's decision (section 3), analyse the questions referred to the European Court by the High Court in London in which the airlines challenge the validity of Sturgeon (section 4), and briefly comment on questions referred by the German Federal Court on the application of Sturgeon (section 5). My conclusion (section 6) will be that the European Court cannot but confirm Sturgeon, because the decision is compatible with both the Montreal Convention and the Grand Chamber decision in International Air Transport Association (IATA). This conclusion is in line with the opinion I published in January 2010.
This article may be misunderstood as presenting a consumer view on Air Passenger Rights. However, it only aims to predict, from an independent perspective, what the European Court will decide in the pending cases with respect to Sturgeon.
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