The Federal Constitutional Court recently rejected four constitutional complaints for adjudication against a decision concerning Berlin-Schoenefeld Airport. Following a deviation from the airport's originally envisaged flight routes, the plaintiffs had sought an annulment of the original plan approval order. The court held that the difference between the planning procedures for the airport expansion and the determination of the flight routes raised no constitutional concerns.
A recent Erding Local Court case called into question the distance that must be taken into consideration when calculating compensation according to Article 7(1) of EU Regulation 261/2004. The court interpreted Article 7 in line with settled case law and held that only the disrupted flights that had affected the overall delay of the passenger should be included in the calculation of the distance. Therefore, where a reservation consists of several flights, these are to be considered separately.
In a recent case, the Cologne Regional Court ruled that if the flight in question was delayed due to a Eurocontrol rescheduling of its airway slot, passengers had no right to compensation pursuant to EU Regulation 261/2004, irrespective of whether the rescheduling was based on reasons which, when considered individually, would result in extraordinary circumstances.
A recent non-binding referendum asked Berlin citizens whether they should demand that the Senate give up its closure intentions and take all measures necessary to ensure the indefinite operation of Berlin Tegel Airport. The vote indicates that approximately 56% of Berliners voted 'yes' and support keeping Tegel open. Local politics must now find a way to deal with Berlin's wish to maintain two airports.
The Dusseldorf Local Court recently decided that passengers do not have a right to compensation if, according to the meaning of Articles 7(2) and 8 of EU Regulation 261/2004, an alternative flight is cancelled. The court argued that the regulation differentiates between a 'flight' as subject of the transportation contract and an 'alternative flight' as a measure of assistance. Consequently, the cancellation or delay of an alternative flight gives no right to compensation.
The Berlin Regional Court recently upheld the application of a private German association for the advancement of consumer rights, which claimed that a German air carrier's online booking system had violated EU Regulation 1008/2008. Following the dismissal of the appeal brought by the carrier before the Berlin Upper Regional Court, the airline lodged a remedy of review before the Federal Court of Justice, which stayed the proceedings and referred the case to the European Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling.
Parliament recently passed an act incorporating the EU Payment Services Directive into German law. In line with the development of cashless currency being among the most frequently used payment methods, the act was passed to facilitate the use of electronic payment methods. To achieve a level playing field for all market participants, the act will also have a considerable impact on the aviation industry. Nowadays, online bookings via credit card are airlines' daily business.
According to the amended Air Traffic Act, drones are recognised as aircraft. However, only unmanned aerial systems (UAS) that are not used for hobby or recreational purposes qualify as aircraft. Authorisation to fly will be granted if operation of the UAS does not present a risk to air safety or order and if rules on data protection and privacy are not violated. The main prerequisite for obtaining a flight permit is the coverage of the respective risks by liability insurance.
The plaintiff in a recent case claimed reimbursement from Munich Airport, claiming that it had caused him to miss his flight due to a slow security check. The Erding Local Court held that airport staff must proactively open further lanes in security and urge passengers who are in danger of missing their flights to move along the queue. However, the court also noted that the plaintiff should have left the queue and drawn attention to the approaching boarding time as soon as he risked missing his flight.
The use of drones, whether for private or commercial use, is a rapidly developing trend. The use of unmanned airspace causes potential risks, but other legally critical aspects relating to privacy, security and the environment must also be considered. The government recently introduced a draft regulation to create sufficient regulations to deal with these risks by amending the existing fragmented provisions and establishing rules to liberalise the commercial use of drones.
As of February 1 2017 companies and entrepreneurs, including air carriers, must comply with new information duties with regard to alternative dispute resolution (ADR). While ADR participation is voluntary, a peculiarity applies for air carriers. According to the Air Traffic Act, airlines are obliged to participate in ADR. If an air carrier does not voluntarily join the private conciliation body, it must participate in the government ADR process.
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) recently decided on the interpretation of EU Regulation 261/2004 and the calculation of a reimbursement owed to a passenger who was downgraded on a flight from first class to business class. The ECJ decided that the regulation must be interpreted as meaning that where a passenger is downgraded on a flight, the price for determining reimbursement is the price of the flight on which the passenger was downgraded.
The Berlin Regional Court recently decided a case in which the plaintiff claimed compensation for damages that were said to have occurred during air transport. The plaintiff had filed a legal action at his home court in Hamburg, but the matter was referred to a Frankfurt court because Frankfurt Airport was involved. However, the Frankfurt court was also not competent to hear the case. The Berlin Regional Court received the case after the expiration of the two-year limitation period under the Montreal Convention.
The Frankfurt Local Court recently decided that an airline may restrict the validity of ticket vouchers given as a goodwill gesture. Following a delayed arrival, the defendant offered the plaintiff a free round-trip ticket voucher valid for one year. The plaintiff was unable make use of the voucher within the year, so requested that it be extended. The defendant refused. As the voucher's time limit was part of the agreement, the plaintiff was unable to claim damages from lack of use.
According to a recent Frankfurt Local Court decision, a property irregularity report filed in the case of delayed baggage does not suffice as a timely notice of complaint, as set out in the Montreal Convention. The court ruled that a property irregularity report informs the airline only about missing baggage, and not about the expected claim for damages.
The Federal Labour Court recently confirmed earlier judgments denying compensation to a third party as a consequence of a strike. Through this latest decision, the court has strengthened its jurisdiction by denying compensation to third parties affected by unlawful strikes. In addition, the court has clarified that a strike becomes unlawful in total even if only a part of its goals violate the industrial peace obligation.
A number of projects and applications for drone use in transportation and delivery are underway, including by Deutsche Post DHL, which recently completed a three-month test period using a parcelcopter for business-to-customer and customer-to-customer parcel delivery. Plans are also underway to create specialised ground-based drones, and survey results have shown that approximately 13% of customers have a specific interest in drone delivery.
Air carriers that grant free or discounted flights to employees provide a monetary benefit that is subject to wage tax. The tax basis for these staff flights is the usual final price reduced by the regular discount granted at the place of issue. The supreme tax authorities recently issued new averages for air mileage for 2016 to 2018. The averages apply if no restrictions exist in the reservation status.
The Frankfurt Local Court recently decided that a passenger's claim for compensation pursuant to EU Regulation 261/2004 requires an accepted reservation by the airline. Passengers have no right to compensation if the airline has not accepted the reservation and the travel agency has issued incorrect booking confirmation. The burden of proof regarding the airline's booking acceptance rests with the passenger.
Due to the fast-growing number of drone operations, the minister of transport recently announced the revision of the rules governing the use of civil drones in Germany. According to the minister, such use is not sufficiently regulated. The envisaged rules aim to reduce hazards in the airspace and on the ground, while new legislation is being drafted for commercial and private drone use.