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Airlines Must Improve Handling of Flight Cancellations, Says Commission

Photo source: European Parliament

Photo source: European Parliament

The European Commission and national consumer authorities on Monday called on airlines to improve how they deal with cancellations in the context of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

“We have received a lot of complaints from consumers but we have also worked closely with airlines to understand where there are shortfalls and why,” Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders said, adding that airlines need to respect the rights of consumers when flights are cancelled.

“Today we are asking for simple solutions to give consumers certainty after a period of extreme turmoil,” Reynders said

Photo source: European Parliament

Photo source: European Parliament

According to the Commission, airlines operating in the EU must respect EU consumer law – from ensuring transparent communication, to proactively informing passengers about their rights. In particular, they must provide a choice between a refund and a voucher and inform passengers that they have the right to exchange their vouchers for money at any time.

Sixteen major airlines questioned for a relevant survey by the Commission did not refund passengers within the 7-day time limit provided for by EU law. The Commission underlined that airlines must take action to ensure that this delay is respected for all new bookings – whether bought directly or through an intermediary – and to swiftly absorb the backlog of pending reimbursements, by 1 September 2021 at the latest.

“We will continue to work with national authorities to have passengers’ rights properly communicated, implemented and enforced. Passengers must have a real choice between vouchers and refunds,” Commissioner for Transport Adina Vălean said.

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