The vast majority of EU countries back a movement calling Brussels to suspend European legislation forbidding refunds for canceled flights, Euronews knows.
It comes amid anger out of passengers who had their flights canceled due to the coronavirus lockdowns but were just offered vouchers in reimbursement.
‘Immense amount of flights canceled’
European regulations state passengers have to be provided a refund when a flight is canceled.
However, there’s currently a push to find this EU law suspended temporarily to provide struggling airlines critical breathing space.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unparalleled effect on international transportation, including aviation,” that the 12 EU countries said in a joint announcement (PDF download).
“Thousands of flights are canceled. Air carriers are no longer creating passenger organization, however, they continue to incur large running costs.
“Due to the Regulation EC (No) 261/2004 and its duty to pay back canceled tickets in money, if the passenger decides, puts airlines in a challenging situation where they’re facing a significant cash flow challenge.
“After the wording of this law has been conceived, the present international crisis and its effects on aviation couldn’t have been foreseen. The goal shared with the European Union and its member nations must be to maintain the arrangement of the European air traffic marketplace beyond the present crisis while considering the pursuits and necessary security of passengers”
However, the EU’s transportation commissioner, Adina Valeant, told Euronews on Tuesday she believed such a movement was a lousy idea.
“It is not feasible for me,” she explained. “I don’t feel this is the ideal path. I think companies need to put their energy and belief in creating the vouchers more appealing if they would like to use largely this tool, but let passengers exercise their right to be reimbursed.”
‘Strong bulk’ back movement
But the vast majority of EU countries now back the transfer, an EU diplomat told Euronews later on Wednesday.
“The telephone revealed a steadily growing majority of member nations in favor of temporarily enabling airlines to simply issue vouchers to clients. Together with 16 capitals specifically in favor — a few even place that amounts at 20 –, there are a powerful enough majority in Council to immediately pass the essential amendment. In other words, the ball is currently in Commissioner Valean’s courtroom,” the diplomat said.
Among other EU nations, Euronews knows that Lithuania is”available for additional discussion”, while Slovakia and Italy requested for a”balanced approach”. Just Luxembourg Significantly than a change.
A Dutch official stated:”(Infrastructure) Union (Cora) van Nieuwenhuizen noted a vast majority of this Council has expressed itself in service of using coupons to stop airlines at a challenging situation from conducting into immediate cash issues. Commissioner Valeant said within her response the conversation is continuing, also inside the Commission. Together with other fans, the Netherlands will talk about how to proceed.”
Air France-KLM is one of the firms not offering refunds to passengers – despite getting $11 billion in support in the Japanese and French authorities. KLM advised Euronews that present regulations weren’t designed to take care of the exceptional conditions of a pandemic.
“No text envisaged the ban and travel limitations that have started lately. KLM thinks that the issuance of a voucher constitutes a reasonable solution and a sensible balance between the security of the passengers along with the operational realities that each airline needs to confront.”
But European consumer rights firm, BEUC, said travelers shouldn’t be those to bail out the airline business.
“COVID-19 is placing customers under a massive financial strain,” stated BEUC director overall Monique Goyens.
“But we have seen countless cases of airlines and travel firms undermining consumers’ rights by attempting to drive people to take vouchers.
“Additionally, consumers shouldn’t be forced by authorities to pick up the bill to bail out the travel market.
“We want solutions which protect both the travel business and customer rights, without which customer confidence in the travel sector might be permanently ruined”.
Euronews Political Editor Darren McAffrey stated he believes some sort of shift in the principles is currently on the cards.
“When you examine the balance sheets of a number of these firms they do not possess the capability at the moment to repay millions of Europeans using the cash,” he advised Euronews Now.
View Darren’s investigation from the video player over.