Airport handling and contract for third parties’ benefit

By judgement no. 21850 issued on 20th September 2017, the Italian Court of Cassation held that the relationship among the air carrier, handling operator and cargo interests does not give rise to a contract for third parties benefit, thus excluding the existence of a contractual relationship between the handling operator and cargo interests. The Court based its decision on the assumption that the handling operator must be qualified just as a carrier’s servant, so that the contractual liability for loss of and/or damage to the goods can be claimed to the carrier only. As a carrier’s servant, the handling operator is subject to the 1999 Montreal Convention and can take advantage of the same exemptions and limitations of liability which are provided in favor of the air carrier.