Friday, September 26, 2008

European Court of Justice: hearing on Reg. 261/2004

On Sep. 24, 2008 European Court of Justice held a hearing in connected cases C- 402/07 (Sturgeon v. Condor) and C-432/07 (Böck v. Air France) regarding differentiation between delay and cancellation on the one hand and acknowledgement of technical problems as extraordinary circumstances on the other. Apart from plaintiffs' counsels only the counsels of Condor (defendant in case C-402/07) and representatives of the Commission, Greece and the United Kingdom attended the hearing.

Advocate General Sharpston showed specific interest in the importance of the flight number for the purpose of distinguishing a mere delay from cancellation. The most pointed remark came from UK's representative who argued for a very restrictve interpretation of the term "cancellation" covering only cases when no flight at all was operated. This resulted into a robust discussion with the Advocate General who laid strong emphasis on the principle of equal treatment of comparable situations: from the passenger's view it wouldn't make much difference whether he reached his destination one day later because of a delay or because of a cancellation. Ms Sharpston stressed that the fundamental principle of equal treatment was binding for the European secondary legislator.

Ms Sharpston announced that she will give her opinion at a later stage of the proceedings.

European Court of First Instance: no damages granted after annulment of the Commission’s decision to interdict acquistion of First Choice by MyTravel

On 29 April 1999, the United Kingdom travel company Airtours (now renamed into MyTravel Group) announced its intention to acquire the whole of the issued share capital of First Choice, one of its competitors in the United Kingdom, on the stock market. The Commission declared the merger incompatible with the common market on the ground that it would have led to a collective dominant position on the United Kingdom short-haul foreign package holiday market.
Airtours brought proceedings before the Court of First Instance which by judgment of 6 June 2002 annulled the decision, holding that the Commission had not shown to the requisite degree that negative effects on competition would arise by virtue of the merger.

Following that judgment, MyTravel Group brought an action before the Court of First Instance claiming damages for the loss it claimed to have suffered by reason of the unlawfulness vitiating the review procedure undertaken by the Commission of the compatibility of the proposed acquisition of the applicant’s competitor with the common market.

The Court of First Instance held, that for the non-contractual liability of the Community to arise there must be unlawful conduct by its institutions amounting to a manifest and grave disregard for the limits on their discretion. the complexity of the situations to be regulated in the control of mergers, the difficulties of application connected with the time constraints imposed on the administration in that regard and the margin of discretion available to the Commission must be taken into account in analysing whether a sufficiently serious breach on the Commission’s part may have arisen.

Having regard to those considerations, the Court of First Instance rules that the Commission did not commit a sufficiently serious infringement of a rule of law in analysing the Airtours/First Choice merger in light of the criteria relating to the creation of a collective dominant position.

Source: Court of First Instance press release>>.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Relaunch of Aviation industry climate change website

The site,, is an initiative of the commercial aviation industry and highlights the technology solutions, operational improvements and infrastructure efficiencies that are being researched and implemented across the world. It aims to answer the questions being raised by environmental groups and members of the public about aviation's impact on the environment and in particular climate change.

The new-look website has been established to provide members of the flying public and those working in the industry with the science and facts on aviation and its climate change impact, while also detailing the huge amount of work being undertaken across the industry.

Source: ForImmediateRelease.Net; full article here>>.

UNTWO welcomes Norway as 154th member state

In 1947, Norway was one of the 19 founding members of the International Union of Official Travel Organizations (IUOTO), the organization which preceded the modern UNWTO. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway officially submitted its application for full membership of UNWTO on 8 September 2008. In accordance with the UNWTO Statutes this membership enters into immediate effect.

The Membership in UNWTO is part of Norway’s national strategy for the tourism industry, which highlights the importance of the further development of the sector as a vehicle for economic growth, in addition to traditional industries such as fishing, agriculture or oil.

Source: UNTWO press release>>.