Vueling Airlines v Instituto Galego de Consumo de la Xunta de Galicia
C-487/12, CJEU, 18 September 2014
Reference for a preliminary ruling – Air Transport – Common rules for the operation of air services in the European Union – Regulation (EC) No 1008/2008 – Pricing freedom – Checking in baggage – Price supplement – Concept of ‘air fares’ – Consumer protection – Imposition of a fine on an air carrier for an unfair contract term – National law requiring the carriage of passenger and checked-in baggage to be included in the base price of a plane ticket – Whether compatible with EU law
The request for a preliminary ruling concerned the interpretation of Article 22(1) of Regulation (EC) No 1008/2008 on common rules for the operation of air services in the Community.
Article 22 provides ‘…Community air carriers and, on the basis of reciprocity, air carriers of third countries shall freely set air fares and air rates for intra-Community air services.’
Article 97 of Law 48/1960 on air navigation (Spanish law) provides ‘‘As part of the price of the ticket, the carrier is required to carry passengers and their baggage, subject to weight limits established by regulation, irrespective of the number of items and their size.
Separate provisions shall govern excess baggage.
For these purposes, baggage does not include objects and items of hand baggage carried by passengers themselves. The carrier is required to carry free of charge in the cabin, as hand baggage, objects and items carried by passengers themselves, including items purchased in airport shops. The carrier may refuse to allow such objects and items on board only on grounds of security, weight or size of the object in relation to the characteristics of the aircraft.’
The following question was referred to the CJEU:
‘Is Article 22(1) of [Regulation No 1008/2008] to be interpreted as precluding a national rule (Article 97 of Law 48/1960) that requires passenger airlines to grant passengers the right always to check in a suitcase without paying a supplement or surcharge on top of the base price of the ticket purchased?’
The CJEU held that:
Article 22(1) of Regulation No 1008/2008 must be interpreted as precluding a national law that requires air carriers to carry, in all circumstances, not only the passenger, but also baggage checked in by him, provided that the baggage complies with certain requirements as regards, in particular, its weight, for the price of the plane ticket and without it being possible to charge any price supplement to carry such baggage.
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