Brussels, 10 January 2006
The European Court of Justice today confirmed the validity of EU legislation on air passengers’ rights. This legislation, which came into force on 17 February 2005 (IP/05/181), has introduced very significant improvements to the protection of air passengers’ rights in the European Union in the event of denied boarding, flight cancellation or long delays.
“This is very good news for European citizens. Air transport is making a major contribution to their mobility. The European Court now also confirms EU legislation giving them certain rights when their flight is overbooked, delayed or cancelled”, said Jacques Barrot, European Commission Vice-President in charge of transport.
The Court ruling follows an application for judicial review that was first submitted by IATA (International Air Transport Association), ELFAA (European Low Fares Airline Association) and Hapag-Lloyd Express, to the High Court of Justice of England and Wales, claiming that the EU Regulation on air passenger rights was invalid on several grounds. The High Court later referred the case for a preliminary ruling to the European Court of Justice.
Today’s ruling by the Court backs the European Commission in its efforts to ensure that the Regulation is properly implemented by airlines and national authorities. Since its coming into force, the Commission has been closely monitoring its application and is determined to maintain its efforts in order to safeguard the rights of passengers when travelling by air.
The Regulation requires each Member State to set up an independent body responsible for dealing with passengers’ complaints and any disputes they may have with airlines to avoid long and expensive court cases. The different National Enforcement Bodies are invited to Brussels for a second meeting with the Commission on 17 February 2006, the first anniversary of the entry into force of the Regulation, to discuss any difficulties with regard to the application of the rules and the imposition of sanctions on airlines which infringe this legislation.
The Commission will prepare this year a report on the implementation of these
 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, Official Journal L 046 , 17/02/2004