The CJEU on the Concept of “Connecting Flight” for the Compensation for Air Passengers in the Event of a Long Delay to a Flight

Yesterday (6 October 2022), the Court of Justice delivered the judgment on the case No C-436/21, flightright GmbH v. American Airlines Inc.

In the dispute in the main proceeding, flightright GmbH – a German debt collector agency, to which the rights arising from a long delay to a flight have been assigned – claims compensation from the defendant (American Airline Inc.) pursuant to Art 7(1)(c) of Regulation (EC) No 261/2004. The assignor, in order to travel from Stuttgart to Kansas Cuty, concluded an agency contract with a travel agency in the form of a single electronic ticket for, first, a flight from Stuttgart to Zurich operated by Swiss International Air Lines AG and, second, two flights connecting Zurich to Philadelphia and Philadelphia to Kansas City respectively, operated by American Airlines. While the first two flights ran to schedule, the last one was delayed by more than four hours. To decide whether the flight departed from the territory of a Member State, in order to grant compensation to the assignee, the referring Court (Bundesgerichtshof) requests the Court of Justice to interpret the concepts of “connecting flights” and “final destination”.

In the decision, the Court of Justice stated that Art 2(h) of Regulation No 261/2004 “must be interpreted as meaning that the concept of a ‘connecting flight’ covers a transport operation made up of a number of flights operated by separate operating air carriers which do not have a specific legal relationship, where those flights have been combined by a travel agency which has charged an overall price and issued a single ticket for that operation, with the result that a passenger departing from an airport located in the territory of a Member State who suffers a long delay to the arrival at the destination of the last flight may rely on the right to compensation pursuant to Article 7 of that regulation”.

On compensation for air passengers in the event of long delay to a flight and on jurisdiction in cross-border flights, the readers of RDIPP may refer to:

Serranò, 2010, No 1, 77 ff.;
Sandrini, 2013, No 1, 93 ff.;
Argentini, 2021, No 3, 589 ff.