Language of document : ECLI:EU:C:2014:2377

Case C‑394/14

Sandy Siewert and Others


Condor Flugdienst GmbH

(Request for a preliminary ruling from the Amtsgericht Rüsselsheim)

(Reference for a preliminary ruling — Rules of Procedure — Article 99 — Air transport — Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 — Long delay to a flight — Passengers’ right to compensation — Conditions exempting an air carrier from its obligation to pay compensation — Notion of ‘extraordinary circumstances’ — Aircraft damaged by a set of mobile boarding stairs in the course of a preceding flight)

Summary — Order of the Court (Fifth Chamber), 14 November 2014

Transport — Air transport — Regulation No 261/2004 — Compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of cancellation of a flight — Exemption from the obligation to pay compensation — Condition — Extraordinary circumstances — Meaning — Aircraft damaged by a set of mobile boarding stairs — Not included — Exception

(European Parliament and Council Regulation No 261/2004, Art. 5(3))

Article 5(3) of Regulation No 261/2004 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 No 295/91, must be interpreted as meaning that a situation where an airport’s set of mobile boarding stairs collides with an aircraft cannot be categorised as ‘extraordinary circumstances’ exempting the air carrier from its obligation to pay the passengers compensation in the event of a long delay to a flight operated by that aircraft.

Mobile boarding stairs or gangways are indispensable to air passenger transport, enabling passengers to enter or leave the aircraft, and, accordingly, air carriers are regularly faced with situations arising from their use. As a result, a collision between an aircraft and any such set of mobile boarding stairs must be regarded as an event inherent in the normal exercise of the activity of the air carrier. However, damage caused by an act outside the category of normal airport services (such as an act of sabotage or terrorism), which must be established before the national court by the air carrier, is covered by the term ‘extraordinary circumstances’.

(see paras 19, 22, operative part)