Passengers whose travel package has been disrupted by measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic may be entitled to a reduction in the price of the trip, according to the Package Travel Directive, which establishes the strict liability of the travel organizer. This directive stipulates that the passenger is entitled to a reasonable price reduction for the entire period during which the non-compliance with the contract occurred, unless the organizer proves that the non-compliance with the contract can be attributed to the passenger.
Two travellers from Germany purchased a package of travel services for two weeks in the Canary Islands from a German service organizer. At this time, measures were taken in the Canary Islands to combat the spread of the COVID-19 disease. Accordingly, they were denied access to the sea, beaches, and swimming pools because a curfew was imposed. This ban could be violated only for the purpose of eating.
The Claimants were further informed that they should be prepared to leave the Canary Islands at any moment and return to Germany two days later. Pursuant to the above, the Plaintiffs demanded a 70% price reduction from the travel organizer, due to the measures taken to combat the spread of the COVID-19 disease. The tour organizer refused to lower the price to the Plaintiffs, so they turned to the German courts.
The Regional Court of Munich I, as a court of appeal, asked the Court of Justice a question regarding the interpretation of the directive on package travel services. The Court responded that a traveller is entitled to a reduction in the price of a package of travel services if the non-compliance of the travel services included in his package of services with the contract is due to restrictions that have been imposed at his destination to combat the spread of an infectious disease such as COVID-19.
This directive establishes the objective responsibility of the travel organizer, which means that the travel organizer can be released from this responsibility only if the failure to provide or inadequate provision is attributable to the passenger, which is not the case.
The Court of Justice clarifies that the organizer's obligations arising from the contract for the package of travel services include not only the obligations that are expressly stated in the contract, but also the obligations that are connected to it and arise from the purpose of the contract. Pursuant to the aforementioned a, the price reduction by the travel organizer of the said package must correspond to the value of the travel services that are not in accordance with the contract.
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