Airlines: Absence of compensation in case of lightning

Facts As passengers boarded an aircraft, the aircraft still on the tarmac is struck down. After careful examination of the aircraft, the aeronautical engineers decide to transfer the passengers to another flight.

He arrives at his destination more than five hours late. For the purpose of compensation for their injury, two of the passengers assign the airline. A local court rejects their request. They give themselves in cassation.

Decision According to the grounds of the appeal, in order to be exempted from its obligation to compensate, the airline does not characterize the existence of extraordinary circumstances. The appeal is dismissed.

Directive 261/2004 of 11 February 2004 lays down common rules on compensation and assistance to air passengers in the European Union, in particular in the event of delay and cancellation. In the event of extraordinary circumstances, such as weather conditions that are incompatible with the completion of a flight, the air carrier may be exonerated of any liability.

Contrary to the arguments of the passengers and in the line of the European jurisprudence (CJEU, 19 nov.2009, Sturgeon C 402/07 and C-432/07), the High court retains the existence of exceptional circumstances. In its view, the air carrier has established that, even if it took all reasonable measures, it clearly could not have avoided the exceptional circumstances.

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