Air carrier liability in the event of accidents

This Regulation aims to harmonise the rules on air carrier liability and improve the level of compensation and protection of passengers involved in air accidents.


Council Regulation (EC) No 2027/97 of 9 October 1997 on air carrier liability in respect of the carriage of passengers and their baggage by air [Official Journal L 285 of 17.10.1997].


This Regulation defines and harmonises the obligations of Community air carriers as regards the nature and limits of their liability in the event of accidents to passengers.

The Regulation applies to damage sustained in the event of death, wounding or any other bodily injury to a passenger if the accident in question took place on board an aircraft or during any of the embarking or disembarking operations.

The liability of an air carrier (air transport undertaking) for damage sustained by a passenger or a passenger's baggage in the event of an accident cannot be subject to any financial limit defined by law, convention or contract.

The carrier can be discharged of his liability only by proving that the damage was caused by the negligence of the injured or deceased passenger.

The Community air carrier is obliged to pay the victims or those entitled to compensation an advance proportional to the damage sustained not later than 15 days after identification of the victim.

Community air carriers must inform passengers of the provisions relating to their liability in the event of accident and the compensation of victims, in particular by including them in the conditions of carriage.

Regulation (EC) No 889/2002 6. This Regulation brings the Community arrangements fully into line with the new international rules (Montreal Convention). The aim is to harmonise liability limits and legal defences in respect of European carriers, irrespective of the route (internal, intra-Community, international) on which the accident occurs.

A new Convention unifying certain rules relating to international carriage by air was signed in Montreal on 28 May 1999, setting new global rules on liability in the event of accidents in international air transport.

This Convention provides for a regime of unlimited liability in the event of the death or injury of air passengers and lays down a number of additional provisions.

Accordingly, Regulation (EC) No 2027/97 has been amended to bring it into line with the provisions of the Montreal Convention, by setting up a uniform system of air transport liability.

The obligation of insurance is to be understood as requiring that a Community air carrier must be insured up to a level that is adequate to ensure that all persons entitled to compensation receive the full amount to which they are entitled in accordance with the Regulation.

Air carriers must provide each passenger with a written indication of:

Air carriers' liability in respect of passengers and their baggage relates to:

Any action in court to claim damages must be brought within two years from the date of arrival of the aircraft, or from the date on which the aircraft ought to have arrived.



Entry into force - Date of expiry

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 2027/97



L 285 of 17.10.1997

Amending act(s)

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 889/2002



L 140 of 30.05.2002


Council Decision 2001/539/EC of 5 April 2001 on the conclusion by the European Community of the Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air (the Montreal Convention) [Official Journal L 194 of 18.07.2001].

The Warsaw Convention (1929) was adopted at a time when commercial aviation was in its infancy. Over the years, the expansion of air transport created a need to harmonise certain rules relating to international carriage by air and to establish a regime of civil liability for air carriers.

Under the auspices of the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) the leading players in air transport met in Montreal. The Convention's most important contributions are as follows:

Last updated: 15.05.2007