RASK successfully represents airBaltic in circuit court.


RASK represented the air carrier airBaltic in a court dispute with flight compensation claim handler Flagito, achieving a milestone decision in the circuit court, which will guide the protection of the rights of air operators in the Estonian legal space.

The dispute focused on an airBaltic flight, subject to Flagito’s compensation claim, from Spain to Tallinn which was cancelled due to air traffic restrictions imposed in Estonian airspace to limit the spread of COVID-19. During the planned time of the flight, all flights to and from Estonian airports departing from or heading to countries where the cumulative COVID-19 incidence per 100,000 inhabitants in the previous 14 days was more than 25 inhabitants had been suspended in Estonian airspace.

According to Regulation 261/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council, which lays down the rules for the payment of flight compensation, air carriers are not required to compensate passengers in extraordinary circumstances that could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken. In its decision of 19 August 2021, the Tallinn Circuit Court found that the air traffic restrictions established in Estonian airspace to limit the spread of COVID-19 qualified as unavoidable extraordinary circumstances within the meaning of the EU regulation.

The court rejected Flagito’s claim for air compensation, agreeing with RASK’s position that the carrier could not disregard the restrictions imposed by the national authorities and the epidemiological situation constitutes an unforeseeable circumstance for a carrier. The Supreme Court refused Flagito’s appeal against the circuit court’s decision.

The circuit court decision is of considerable importance for airlines operating in Estonia, as Estonian courts had previously interpreted the “extraordinary circumstances” clause in the EU regulation very narrowly, mostly requiring the airline to bear the risk of unforeseen events. We hope that the circuit court’s position indicates that future disputes will be resolved with more consideration for the legitimate interests of air carriers. As stated by the circuit court based on European Union case-law, EU Regulation No 261/2004 is intended to ensure a balance between the interests of passengers and airlines, as well as ensuring a high level of protection for passengers.

Air Baltic Corporation AS is the flag carrier of Latvia and the largest airline in the Baltics with its headquarters at Riga International Airport. In its 26 years of operation, airBaltic has grown significantly, currently serving more than 70 destinations. Today, airBaltic is also the main flight operator at Lennart Meri Tallinn Airport.