In Ch. vs Omsk airport: Air company Sibir (S7 Airlines) a woman filed a claim for compensation for injury and moral damages against the airport and the carrier She had slipped down a set of stairs during disembarkation and sustained injury as a result. Under Russian civil legislation, aircraft are considered to be a *source of increased danger The operator of a source of increased danger is liable for damage inflicted in the course of operation, regardless of fault. The only defences to such injury are force majeure and wilful intent / gross negligence on the part of the injured party. Therefore, in a case of passenger death or injury during domestic flight, the carrier will be responsible on a strict liability basis. The court of first instance concluded that $7 Airlines was liable for the injury, regardless of fault, because the injury had been inflicted during the operation of a «source of increased danger». However, Omsk Regional Court, an appellate court, set aside that first instance ruling. The Omsk Regional Court admitted that the passenger was injured, within the territorial boundaries of the carrier's liability, since in accordance with Article 17 of the Russian Air Code, the air carriage of the passenger shall incorporate the period of time from the moment of the aircraft passenger passes the preflight examination for boarding the aircraft, and until the moment, when the aircraft passenger leaves the airfield under the surveillance of the air carriers authorized persons. However, the court concluded that the air stairs could not be qualified as the source of increased danger since it was firmly fixed. In addition, the injury did not result from operation of the aircraft, and those characteristics of the aircraft which make aircraft a source of increased danger did not, in fact, cause the injury. The Omsk Regional Court stated that the carrier's liability for an activity which lacks direct connection with the main function of the air carrier should be based on the general grounds of civil liability including, inter alia, the need to prove the carrier's fault being an essential element of such liability. On the facts, the carrier successfully proved that it had undertaken all possible measures to prevent the passenger's injury and, therefore, proved it was not at fault.
In S.O. vs Atlas Jet, a family claimed compensation from the carrier for the death of the family primary earner in a domestic air accident. Article 116 of the Russian Air Code provides that the carrier is liable to passengers in the order established by (1) Russian legislation, (2) an international treaty to which Russian Federation is the party, and (3) the passenger air carriage agreement. In S.O. vs Atlas Jet, the deceased passenger was on a business trip at the time of the accident, Le, while performing obligations under his employment contract. In such cases, Russian social insurance legislation provides for payments from the state Social Insurance Fund to dependents of the deceased primary earner. The court found that the family members were receiving such social insurance payments. Therefore the court concluded that the family members had a right only to compensation for the loss of the primary earner's wages to the extent such right exceeded the social insurance payments.
A claimant filed a claim to the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation to hold invalid the second sentence of paragraph 6 of the Federal Aviation Rules established by the Russian Ministry of Transport, under which the carrier has a right to appoint a third party to perform the carrier's obligations under the air carriage agreement The claim was based on the opinion of the applicant that such a transfer of the obligation from the contractual carrier to another carrier, whose rating is lower, violates the right of a passenger to contractual freedom and has implications also for flight safety.
The court dismissed the claim, emphasizing that: (a) the condition establishing that a carrier who entered into the air carriage contract shall perform its obligations itself is not a substantial condition (i.e., a condition which should be clearly agreed between the parties to have a contract concluded) for contracts of such type under Russian legislation; (b) the principle of replacing a carrier in substitution for another is established in international law, in particular in the Convention supplementary to the Warsaw Convention and which is a part of the Russian legal system; (c) the right of the carrier to appoint another carrier to perform its obligations under the air carriage agreement cannot violate the right of a passenger in terms of flight safety, as the safety requirements applied in Russia are the same for all carriers regardless of their rating.