The European Court of Justice has ruled that the sudden death of a crew member does not constitute an exceptional circumstance within the meaning of the Air Passenger Rights Regulation. Airlines are therefore liable for delays and cancellations.
Under case numbers C-156/22 to C-158/22, the European Court of Justice dealt with a case in which the co-pilot was found dead in his hotel room about two hours before departure before a flight from Stuttgart to Lisbon became. Due to the tragic circumstance, the entire crew declared themselves unfit to fly for safety reasons. Tap had to cancel this flight and several others that were scheduled on this plane.
A replacement aircraft and crew were flown in from Lisbon, but it did not take off from Stuttgart until 16:40 p.m. Several passengers ceded their air passenger rights to service providers who went to court. The matter, which happened back in 2019, ended up before the European Supreme Court. This is of the opinion that the short-term death of an indispensable crew member is not an exceptional circumstance, as another pilot could have taken over or another crew could have been deployed.