International Journal of Tourism, Travel and Hospitality Law 2023

AN AIR PASSENGER’S UNFORTUNATE FALL DOWN THE STAIRS the US Supreme Court in the Air France/Saks case essentially in that the criterion of an event external to the sphere of the passenger is missing in the former.26 However, AG Emiliou assumed that this was only an unintentional omission by the Court of Justice, especially since it was obvious that a passenger could not assert a claim against the air carrier if he fell for a reason within his own sphere (such as a stroke) and that there was therefore a good reason for the criterion of an event or occurrence external to the passenger’s sphere.27 Even if the term ‘accident’ was initially based on its ordinary meaning, it remained an autonomous term that served the purpose of the Montreal Convention to protect consumers’ interests, but at the same time to provide a ‘fair balance’.28 His recommendation to the Court of Justice was therefore to interpret Art 17(1) of the Convention as meaning that the term ‘accident’ covers a case in which a passenger falls while disembarking on the boarding stairs, provided that the fall was triggered by some unexpected or unusual factor that is external to the passenger.29 5. THE CJEU JUDGMENT IN THE CASE JR V. AUSTRIAN AIRLINES In its very succinctly reasoned judgment of 02.06.2022, the CJEU refers to its interpretation of the term ‘accident’, already used in the Niki Luftfahrt judgment, as an ‘unforeseen, harmful and involuntary event’ that does not require a connection with an aviation-specific risk or the operation or movement of the aircraft.30 This interpretation was in line with the objectives of the Convention to protect the interests of consumers and to provide adequate compensation in accordance with the principle of full compensation, while maintaining a fair balance of interests.31 Accordingly, Article 17(1) of the Montreal Convention had to be interpreted as meaning that a situation in which, for no ascertainable reason, a passenger falls on a mobile stairway set up for the disembarkation of passengers of an aircraft and injures himself or herself constitutes an ‘accident’, within the meaning of that provision, including 26 Ibid., margin 35. 27 Ibid., margin 52. 28 Ibid., margin 53. 29 Ibid., margin 66 and 84. 30 CJEU, judgement of 02.06.2022 in case C-589/20 – JR v. Austrian Airlines, margin 20. 31 Ibid., margin 21.