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Current ECJ judgement on air passenger rights: No lump sum payment in case of flight delay if the passenger does not show up or rebooks himself

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) recently handed down judgements in cases C-474/22 and C-54/23 relating to air passenger rights in the event of delays. These judgements have far-reaching implications for the rights of passengers and the obligations of airlines.


Background


Two Laudamotion flights from Düsseldorf to Palma de Mallorca were announced with a delay of more than three hours. Two passengers decided not to take the flight as they feared they would miss an important business appointment.


The German Federal Court of Justice asked the CJEU whether a passenger whose flight is announced to be delayed by at least three hours compared to the scheduled arrival time is entitled to compensation if he has not turned up for check-in or if he has booked an alternative flight that has enabled him to reach the final destination with a delay of less than three hours.


Judgement of the CJEU and effects


The CJEU ruled that there is no entitlement to a lump-sum compensation payment in these two cases.


This judgement has a significant impact on the rights of passengers and the obligations of airlines. It clarifies that passengers who decide not to take their flight due to an announced delay are not entitled to a lump-sum compensation payment; they would not have suffered an irreversible loss of time and therefore no compensable damage in terms of the lump-sum compensation payment.


In addition, a passenger who voluntarily did not take the flight for which he had a confirmed booking and who, thanks to a replacement flight for which he reserved a seat on his own initiative, reached the final destination with a delay of less than three hours compared to the originally planned arrival time, did not suffer a loss of time that would entitle him to a lump-sum compensation payment.


The Air Passenger Rights Regulation (Reg. 261/2004) is intended to minimise annoyances and “serious inconvenience” suffered by passengers in connection with a flight can be remedied. However, such an inconvenience, which may result from a passenger having to find an alternative flight themselves, cannot be considered serious within the meaning of the Air Passenger Rights Regulation if the passenger has reached their final destination with a delay of less than three hours.


Lawyer aviation law


Dr Simon Harald Baier LL.M. advises on all questions of aviation law and represents airlines in the defence of passenger claims.


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