Sixteen major European airlines have confirmed that they reimbursed over 500,000 flight vouchers that they had imposed on consumers for cancelled flights during the Covid-19 pandemic, the European Commission said on Friday.
“This is the result of the dialogue that the Commission and the Consumer Protection Network (CPC Network) conducted in 2021 to address the consequences of the massive and unprecedented flight cancellations which happened in the early stages of the pandemic,” the Commission said in an announcement.
Dialogues had been held with the following airlines: Aegean Airlines, Air France, Alitalia, Austrian Airlines, British Airways, Brussels Airlines, Easyjet, Eurowings, Iberia, KLM, Lufthansa, Norwegian, Ryanair, TAP, Vueling and Wizz Air.
As part of the 2021 dialogue, the airlines committed to measures to bring their practices in line with EU consumer and passenger rights law. The commitments include:
– clearing reimbursement backlogs and reimbursing passengers timely;
– better informing consumers of their cancellation-related rights;
– and offering consumers to exchange vouchers for money in all cases where vouchers had been imposed on consumers previously.
“The airlines’ reports on the implementation of the commitments show that airlines cleared the bulk of their reimbursement backlogs and adapted their websites, e-mail and other communication to better inform consumers of their rights when a flight is cancelled,” the Commission said.
Airlines reported that they contacted more than 2.5 million consumers holding unused vouchers that had been pushed on them and more than 500,000 of those consumers decided to get their money back.
According to the Commission, in light of the current situation, with many travellers impacted by delays and cancellations of flights, these commitments made during the pandemic by airlines remain relevant and applicable.
The Commission said that it will continue to closely monitor the situation to ensure that it is dealt with in strict compliance with consumer and passenger rights.
It should be mentioned that the Commission is currently carrying out a review of the Package Travel Directive, as well as of the Passenger rights rules, taking into account the lessons learnt from the COVID-19 crisis. The Commission intends to present its proposals in 2023.