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Brussels, 22 December 2008
The European Court of Justice has established today that as a general rule air carriers are obliged to pay compensation to passengers in case of cancellations due to technical problems in the aircraft. It ruled that a technical problem in an aircraft which leads to the cancellation of a flight is not covered by the concept of "extraordinary circumstances" exonerating air carriers, unless that problem stems from events which, by their nature or origin, are not inherent in the normal exercise of the activity of the air carrier concerned and are beyond its actual control, which would have to be proven by the carrier.
This judgement was handed down in a case in which an Austrian citizen brought legal proceedings against Alitalia after the airline refused to pay compensation for a flight from Vienna to Brindisi passing through Rome.
"The effective respect of passenger rights is one of our major priorities" said European Commission Vice-President Antonio Tajani, responsible for transport policy. "The Court's judgement confirms the interpretation of the Commission that the exceptional circumstances that exonerate airlines from their responsibility must be truly exceptional".