In addition to Portugal's TAP include Air France, Alitalia, Austrian Airlines, British Airways, Brussels Airlines, Easyjet, Eurowings, Iberia, KLM, Lufthansa, Norwegian, Ryanair, Vueling and Wizz Air.
TAP and 15 other airlines, with the most complaints in the European Union (EU), have promised timely reimbursement in case of cancelled flights and refunded the money in unused vouchers.
“Following dialogues with the Commission and national consumer protection authorities, 16 major airlines have committed to better information and timely reimbursement of passengers in case of flight cancellations,” the EU executive said in a press release issued on Thursday.
After the European Commission alerted national consumer protection authorities in December last year to address problems regarding reimbursement in the event of cancellations by several airlines in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Commission is announcing a commitment to the largest airlines in the EU.
These are the 16 airlines most frequently mentioned in consumer complaints. In addition to Portugal’s TAP include Air France, Alitalia, Austrian Airlines, British Airways, Brussels Airlines, Easyjet, Eurowings, Iberia, KLM, Lufthansa, Norwegian, Ryanair, Vueling and Wizz Air.
Specifically, in dialogues with the European Commission and national authorities, these airlines have made commitments to reimburse passengers after flight cancellations within seven days as required by EU law and provide consumers with more precise information about their rights.
“Airlines will give equal prominence in their websites, e-mails and other communications to passengers to the different options a passenger has in case of cancellation of a flight by the airline, [such as] re-routing, reimbursement in cash and – if offered by the airline – value in vouchers,” said the EU executive, about what is stipulated by European law.
Concerning vouchers, travellers can only be given vouchers if they expressly choose them. The European Commission noted that most airlines have agreed that unused vouchers that passengers had to accept in the early stages of the pandemic can be reimbursed in cash if the passenger so wishes.
Passengers who booked their flight through an intermediary and have difficulties in obtaining reimbursement may go to the airline and ask for a refund directly, it said, indicating that it has been stipulated that this is announced by the airlines to their passengers.
Quoted in the note, the European Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, calls this “good news”.
“In the initial phase of the pandemic, some airlines imposed vouchers on passengers, but they were acting against EU consumer protection rules, which was unacceptable,” he said, adding that he was pleased that most of them have now agreed to reimburse these vouchers.
The aviation sector was one of the most penalised by Covid-19, notably due to the restrictions imposed, which led to the cancellation of thousands of flights in the EU.
In February this year, and since many of the problems caused by the pandemic were still unresolved, the network of national consumer authorities, with the support of the European Commission, requested information from the 16 airlines concerned, which resulted in this compromise.