ECJ: Passengers are entitled to compensation in the event of a strike

Released on 06.10. 2021

  • The information board in the airport shows canceled Eurowings flights after the airline has been affected by a warning strike by the cabin crew. Photo: David Young

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Is a strike an exceptional circumstance over which an airline has no influence? No, says the ECJ – and strengthens passengers in their right to compensation.

Luxembourg (dpa) – As a rule, passengers are also entitled to compensation if their connection has been canceled due to a strike by the cabin crew.

There are only exceptions in limited individual cases, according to a judgment of the European Court of Justice published on Wednesday. A consumer complained about written because his flight from Salzburg to Berlin was canceled due to a strike (Case C- 613 / 20).

The airline Eurowings had argued that the stoppage was a so-called extraordinary circumstance and that the company had taken all reasonable measures to limit the effects of the strike . The highest European court takes the view, however, that it is foreseeable that if a parent company calls for a strike, employees from other parts of the group will join the strike. Like any employer, an airline whose employees are on strike for better working conditions “cannot claim that it has no influence on these measures”.

In principle, under EU law, travelers can to demand up to Euro for short flights if their connection is canceled and no reasonable alternative is offered. This applies to flights under 1500 kilometers, the amount of compensation increases for longer distances.

However, there are some exceptions, for example if passengers are informed at least two weeks in advance, or – as Eurowings believes in this case – there is an “exceptional circumstance”. According to the relevant EU regulation, this is the case if the circumstances for the cancellation “could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken”.

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