Language of document :

Judgment of the Court (Third Chamber) of 31 January 2013 (request for a preliminary ruling from the Dublin Metropolitan District Court - Ireland) - Denise McDonagh v Ryanair Ltd

(Case C-12/11) 

(Air transport - HYPERLINK "http://hermes.curia.europa.eu:8080/cGTi/html/CelexUrl.html?command=DocNumber&lg=fr&source=Celex&numdoc=32004R0261&lg_dest=en" Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 - Notion of 'extraordinary circumstances' - Obligation to provide assistance to passengers in the event of cancellation of a flight due to 'extraordinary circumstances' - Volcanic eruption leading to the closure of air space - Eruption of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull)

Language of the case: English

Referring court

Dublin Metropolitan District Court

Parties to the main proceedings

Plaintiff: Denise McDonagh

Defendant: Ryanair Ltd

Re:

Request for a preliminary ruling - Dublin Metropolitan District Court - Interpretation and validity of Articles 5 and 9 of Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 February 2004 establishing common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding and of cancellation or long delay of flights, and repealing Regulation (EEC) No 295/91 (OJ 2004 L 46, p. 1) - Notion of 'extraordinary circumstances' for the purposes of the regulation - Scope - Flight cancellation owing to the closure of European air space following the eruption of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull

Operative part of the judgment

1.    Article 5 of Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 February 2004 establishing common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding and of cancellation or long delay of flights, and repealing Regulation (EEC) No 295/91, must be interpreted as meaning that circumstances such as the closure of part of European airspace as a result of the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano constitute 'extraordinary circumstances' within the meaning of that regulation which do not release air carriers from their obligation laid down in Articles 5(1)(b) and 9 of Regulation No 261/2004.

2.    Articles 5(1)(b) and 9 of Regulation No 261/2004 must be interpreted as meaning that, in the event of cancellation of a flight due to 'extraordinary circumstances' of a duration such as that in the main proceedings, the obligation to provide care to air passengers laid down in those provisions must be complied with, and the validity of those provisions is not affected.

However, an air passenger may only obtain, by way of compensation for the failure of the air carrier to comply with its obligation referred to in Articles 5(1)(b) and 9 of Regulation No 261/2004 to provide care, reimbursement of the amounts which, in the light of the specific circumstances of each case, proved necessary, appropriate and reasonable to make up for the shortcomings of the air carrier in the provision of care to that passenger, a matter which is for the national court to assess.

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1 - OJ C 80, 12.3.2011.