German Supreme Court: break down of the aiport computer system constitutes "extraordinary circumstances"

Michael Wukoschitz's picture

The claimants had booked flights from NYC to LON and then on to STR. Due to a break down of the computer systems at JFK aiport (which all in all lasted for 13 hrs), the claimants' flight to LON started 2 hrs late and they missed their conncetion flight to STR. They were rebooked to an alternative flight and reached their final destination with a delay of about 9 hrs. Their claim for compensation under Regulation (EC) No. 261/2004 remained unsuccessful at all court levels.

In its judgements of Jan. 25, 2019, the German Supreme Court (BGH) confirmed the appellate court's view that a failure of the computer system of the airport was beyond the carrier's control and not inherent in the carrier's normal activity. It was irrelevant whether the defendant could have delayed the flight from LON to STR or rebooked the claimants to another flight or operated an additional flight from LON to STR: even if such measures could be regarded "reasonable" they would not have avoided the delay of the flight from NYC to LON.

Source: BGH press release No. 004/2019 of Jan. 15, 2019 regarding judgements X ZR 15/18 and X ZR 85/18 of Jan. 15, 2019