EU Commission clash with countries over travel refund

Sallie Anderson

A clash is developing in between the EU Commission and some member states over EU guidelines that permit airline company guests to selected in between a money refund or coupons if their flight is cancelled due to the coronavirus.

On Wednesday, a lots member states argued, in a letter, for vouchers-only as a momentary relocation, which the EU commission states protests the existing guidelines.

Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Greece, France, Ireland, Latvia, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland and Portugal have actually signed the joint letter stating that when the EU guidelines were prepared, a global crisis such as the pandemic was not predicted.

“[The EU rules’] responsibility to repay cancelled tickets in money, if the guest so chooses, puts airline companies in a tight spot where they are dealing with a severe capital obstacle,” the countries argue.

“A temporary rule would be a solution for current cash flow constraints of airlines while preserving the competitiveness of European aviation,” the lots states’ transportation ministers argued, ahead of a videoconference with fellow ministers.

The 12 capitals state these short-lived guidelines on coupons would be appropriate for consumers if there is “transparent information”,”non-discrimination, a common length for voucher validity, maximum flexibility of use and a clear right of reimbursement immediately at the end of validity in the event of non-use of vouchers”


The EU refund policy also applies for plan travel offers, and other transport tickets.

Making ‘coupons’ appealing

The commission, nevertheless, demands staying with EU guidelines, and rather prompts business to make coupons more appealing – rather of requiring customers to take them.

“Action to make vouchers more attractive to consumers can help to ease the pressure on operators while ensuring full respect of consumer rights,” commission vie-president Vera Jourova stated Wednesday.

Jourova added that travel constraints ought to be raised”as soon as possible avoiding any discrimination on grounds of nationality and taking into account epidemiological developments”


The commission will reveal suggestions on how to handle safe taking a trip throughout the pandemic on 13 May.

On Tuesday, transportation commissioner Adina Valean advised member states to protect coupons versus insolvency, to make them more appealing and stated there is “leeway” for business to enhance them.

“I have full understanding for those who paid for tickets that they were then unable to use, as incomes has been impacted, I fully understand why passengers have been requesting reimbursement in line with EU rules,” she informed MPEs on the transportation committee.

“I do appreciate that this is a place for heavy financial burden on transport operators which I would like to support with the right means,” sheadded


” The European legal framework is clear, providers need to provide guests an option in between a compensation and a re-routing, […] airline companies do have the alternative to provide coupons rather of compensation just with the specific arrangement of guests,” Valean mentioned.

BEUC, the Brussels-based umbrella organisation for customer organisations, stated on Wednesday that travel operators must not weaken customer rights.

“Covid-19 is putting consumers under enormous financial strain. Their right to reimbursement for cancelled travel is more important than ever,” BEUC director basic Monique Goyens stated in a declaration.

“Consumers should not be forced by governments to pick up the bill to bail out the travel industry,” she stated, including that options ought to secure both the travel market and client rights.

On the other hand, European federal governments are having a hard time to include the financial fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

Air- France-KLM

The Dutch facilities minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen notified MPs on Wednesday that, according to quotes, airline company Air France-KLM has actually currently provided EUR3bn in coupons.

Just Recently, the Air- France-KLM group and Air France has actually protected EUR7bn help from the French federal government just recently and the Dutch federal government prepares a EUR2-4bn help for KLM. The Dutch and french federal governments each hold near to 14 percent of Air France-KLM.

The commission had currently in March actioned in to relieve expenses for airline companies, when it briefly suspended guidelines that required providers to fly empty or lose their airport slots.

On Wednesday, planemaker Jet president, Guillaume Faury, cautioned that might take 3 to 5 years for guests to be as happy to fly as prior to the crisis which the air travel market might take as long as 5 years to recuperate.

Tourist, which is accountable for 10 percent of the EU’s GDP and supplies 27 m tasks in the bloc straight or indirectly, is suffering due to the lockdown and social distancing procedures.

Jourova stated Wednesday that the “tourism ecosystem” might lose at 50 percent of its turnover in 2020 and will be especially barely struck in southern Europe.

Germany’s federal government commissioner for tourist, Thomas Bareiss, cautioned that it is not likely that German travelers will travel to Spain or Greece in summer season, Deutsche Welle reported, and will need to remain in their own area.

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