|Author (Corporate)||Court of Justice of the European Union|
The Court of Justice of the European Union published on 17 April 2018 its Judgement on Case C-195/17 - Krüsemann and Others.
According to the CJEU, a ‘wildcat strike’ by flight staff following the surprise announcement of a restructuring does not constitute an ‘extraordinary circumstance’, releasing the airline from its obligation to pay compensation in the event of cancellation or long delay of flight. The risks arising from the social consequences that go with such measures are inherent in the normal exercise of the airline’s activity.
On 30 September 2016, the management of the German airline TUIfly made a surprise announcement to its staff of a plan for restructuring the company. That announcement led to flight staff placing themselves on sick leave for a period of approximately one week. Between 1 and 10 October 2016, the rate of absenteeism on grounds of sickness, usually in the order of 10%, reached up to 89% for cockpit crew staff members and up to 62% for cabin crew staff members.
As a result of that ‘wildcat strike’, many TUIfly flights were cancelled or delayed for three hours or more. However, since TUIfly took the view that 'extraordinary circumstances', within the meaning of the EU regulation on air passenger rights, prevailed, it refused to pay the affected passengers the compensation provided for therein. The Amtsgericht Hannover and the Amtsgericht Düsseldorf (Local Courts of Hanover and Düsseldorf, Germany), before both of which actions for payment of that compensation had been brought, asked the Court of Justice whether the spontaneous absence of a significant part of the flight staff in the form of a ‘wildcat strike’ such as that in question falls within the concept of ‘extraordinary circumstances’, as a result of which the airline could be released from its obligation to pay compensation.
On April 17, the Court answers that question in the negative: the spontaneous absence of a significant part of the flight staff (in the form of a ‘wildcat strike’ such as that in question), which stems from the surprise announcement by an operating air carrier of a restructuring of the undertaking, following a call relayed not by the representatives of the workers of the undertaking but spontaneously by the workers themselves who placed themselves on sick leave, does not fall within the concept of ‘extraordinary circumstances’.
Restructuring and reorganising activities are part of normal business management measures. Airlines may thus, in the ordinary course of business, face disagreements or conflicts with all or part of their members of staff. Consequently, in a situation such as that which occurred at TUIfly in 2016, the risks arising from the social consequences that go with such measures must be regarded as inherent in the normal exercise of the activity of the airline concerned.
|Subject Categories||Law, Mobility and Transport|
|Countries / Regions||Europe|