On 30 September 2016, the management of the German airline made a surprise announcement to its staff of a plan for restructuring the company. Due of that announcement, the rate of absenteeism on grounds of sickness, usually in the order of 10%, reached up to 89% for cockpit crew staff members and up to 62% for cabin crew staff members.
Couple days later, management board informed its staff that an agreement had been reached with staff representatives.
As a result of that „wildcat strike”, many flights were cancelled or delayed for three hours or more. However, since company took the view that „extraordinary circumstances” prevailed, refused to pay the affected passengers the compensation.
In the present case, it is apparent from the file submitted to the Court that the „wildcat strike” among the staff of the air carrier concerned has its origins in the carrier’s surprise announcement of a corporate restructuring process.
Moreover, the restructuring and reorganisation of undertakings are part of the normal management of those entities.
Apart from the fact that the „wildcat strike” stems from a decision taken by the air carrier, it should be noted that, despite the high rate of absenteeism mentioned by the referring court, that „wildcat strike” ceased following an agreement that it concluded with the staff representatives.
In consequence, The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) stated in its judgment that such a strike cannot be classified as an „extraordinary circumstance” within the meaning of Regulation No 261/2004, releasing the operating air carrier from its obligation to pay compensation.
Source: CJEU press release No 49/18, judgment of the CJEU in case C-195/17.