Ski resorts in corona lockdown - trend-setting verdict? Married couple will receive a portion of the cost of the season ticket back

It took two instances and several judges: A couple from Lower Austria received 356,72 euros back from a cable car operator in Zell am See after their ski area had to close in spring 2020 due to Corona. The two originally had bought a “SuperSkiCard” from Schmittenhöhebahn AG for EUR 747 per person, but could not use the last 49 days due to the corona lockdown, which also affected the Salzburg ski areas from March 16, 2020, and requested one from the lift operator proportional reimbursement of costs for the season ticket. Initially, the plaintiff flashed - the woman ceded her claims to her husband - flashed a flash at the Zell am See district court, but has now been granted in the second instance by a judge's senate of the Salzburg regional court.

“You paid until May 3, but you could only ski until March 16,” explained the couple's lawyer, Sebastian Kinberger from Zell am See, in an interview with APA. The validity period of the “SuperSkiCard” - the cross-border ski association comprises 77 ski areas - ranged from October 2019th to May 20rd in the 12/3 season. The proportionate amount in dispute requested from the court was 178,36 euros per person. D.he couple had bought two season tickets from Schmittenhöhebahn AG in Zell am See, which is why they were sued

Defeat in court now costs lift operators almost 1.000 euros


First of all, the District Court of Zell am See dismissed the Lower Austrians' claim for action in a judgment dated November 30, 2020. There was no guarantee that the railways could actually be in operation until May 3rd, and the couple had already been able to complete enough lift rides during the season, said attorney Kinberger, summarizing the reasons for the judgment. He appealed. With success, as it turned out now. The case went to the next instance at the Salzburg Regional Court. A three-judge Senate came to the opposite conclusion. "The appeal was given on April 8, 2021 and the lawsuit was upheld," said court spokesman Peter Egger on APA request. The defendant mountain railway company was obliged to make the coveted payment of 356,72 euros. Furthermore, she has to pay the plaintiff the legal costs of 344 euros and also reimburse the costs of the appeal hearing in the amount of 246 euros, i.e. in total 946,72 Euros. The judgment of the Salzburg Regional Court is final. 

The fact that the plaintiff can claim the proportional reimbursement of costs has to do with force majeure. "The official shutdown of operations that came into force on March 16, 2020 for all cable cars and ski areas throughout Austria, which was due to the pandemic, was an event of force majeure within the meaning of Section 1447 ABGB," said court spokesman Egger, explaining the judgment of the judges' panel at the regional court. "If the performance of the owed service has become partially impossible due to force majeure, this leads to the collapse of the entire contract and to the expiry of the mutual obligations resulting from the contract. As a result, the plaintiff's obligation to pay remuneration for the period from March 16, 2020 to May 3, 2020 no longer applies. " The defendant cannot appeal to the Supreme Court. "A revision is not permitted due to the amount in dispute under 5.000 euros," said Kinberger.

The legal issue of partial cost reimbursement preoccupied many season ticket holders during the first lockdown in spring 2020. The Association for Consumer Information (VKI) brought a model lawsuit against the Salzburg Ski Amade Association at the St. Johann im Pongau district court. The oral hearing was closed on February 2, 2021. A judgment is still pending. (APA)