Sturgeon and Others v Condor Flugdienst GmbH: ECJ 19 Nov 2009

The claimants’ flights had been cancelled. In one case the passengers had been booked on an alternative flight which had been treated as a substitute for the original flight and the carriage had been performed under the original tickets. In the other, the passengers were booked on a flight operated by another airline and fresh tickets had been issued. In the former case the flight arrived 25 hours after the scheduled arrival time of the original flight; in the latter the flight arrived 22 hours late. Both sets of passengers sought to treat their flights as having been cancelled and brought claims for compensation under articles 5 and 7 of Regulation 261. In both cases it was said that the flight had been delayed rather than cancelled.
Held: Delay, however long, was not the same as cancellation, but that the principle of equal treatment required that the position of passengers whose flights were delayed should be compared with that of passengers whose flights were cancelled and that since both suffer similar damage in the form of loss of time they had to be treated in the same way. Passengers who, following a cancellation, are re-routed pursuant to article 5(1)(c)(iii) of Regulation 261 are entitled to compensation under article 7 if the carrier fails to arrange an alternative flight which departs no more than one hour before the originally scheduled time of departure and reaches its destination less than two hours after the scheduled time of arrival. They thus obtain a right to compensation in respect of a loss of time of three hours or more. In the view of the Court passengers who suffer a comparable loss of time by reason of delay to their flights must be treated in the same way. It expressed the critical part of its ruling in the following way: (2) Articles 5, 6 and 7 of Regulation 261/2004 must be interpreted as meaning that passengers whose flights are delayed may be treated, for the purposes of the application of the right to compensation, as passengers whose flights are cancelled and they may thus rely on the right to compensation laid down in art 7 of the Regulation where they suffer, on account of a flight delay, a loss of time equal to or in excess of three hours, that is, where they reach their final destination three hours or more after the arrival time originally scheduled by the air carrier . .’
K Lenaerts, P
[2009] EUECJ C-432/07, [2009] EUECJ C-402/07, C-432/07, [2009] ECR I-10923, C-402/07, [2012] 2 All ER (Comm) 983
Bailii, Bailii
Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 2(1)
OpinionSturgeon and Others v Condor Flugdienst GmbH ECJ 2-Jul-2009
Opinion (Joined cases) – Air transport – Distinction between the notions of ‘delay’ and ‘cancellation’ . .

Cited by:
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CitedDawson v Thomson Airways Ltd CA 19-Jun-2014
The claimant’s flight had been delayed for six hours. The airline said that the claim having been made outside the two year period applicable under the Montreal convention, no compensation was payable.
Held: The claimant’s appeal failed. ‘We . .

These lists may be incomplete.
Updated: 30 April 2021; Ref: scu.470834