Regulation (EC) 261/2004 has been drawn up to protect passengers who are faced with denied boarding, delay, and cancellation of flights. The air transport industry can be regarded as a test case for the implementation of passenger protection measures as similar legislation was passed for rail passengers as late as 2007, and the rights of passengers travelling by bus and coach and by sea and inland waterway are still under discussion. Providers of other modes of transport are not obliged to grant similar protection to their users. Air passengers have become more aware of their rights as have consumers generally.
This article will analyse the provisions of Regulation 261/2004 in the light of the most recent jurisprudence, more particularly the decision of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) of 19 November 2009, as referred to below. National courts are confused about the interpretation of the provisions of this Regulation. In order to find guidance on the subject, they submit their questions to the Court of Justice of the EU, as they have done in the cases discussed in this article.
Arguably, the fragile cohesion resulting from the complex compromise reached between the various parties has not assisted, and indeed has even been prejudiced, by the Court’s decisions. We hope that the second decade of this century will see a more balanced approach towards the European policy objectives while respecting international law and international relations.Air and Space Law