Sinn Féin Dublin South West TD Seán Crowe has welcomed the decision of the European Commission regarding the rights of passengers to receive their money back rather than vouchers for flights.
Under European Union rule 261/2014, travellers have the right to choose between vouchers or cash where flights are cancelled or rerouted within 7 days. Many airlines were refusing to refund passengers cash and were just offering vouchers, with many not responding to passenger queries, others citing cash flow difficulties, blankly refusing a cash payment or using the COVID-19 pandemic to suggest that rules and regulations were somehow on hold or didn’t apply.
The European Union had come under pressure to set aside passenger rights regulations and permit airlines to withhold cash refunds from passengers by some member states, including the Irish government, along with business lobbies who were concerned about a collapse of flights and the aviation industry due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Deputy Seán Crowe said:
“I want to welcome the decision of the European Commission that reinforces the rights of passengers to receive their money back rather than vouchers from airlines following the cancellation of their booked flights.
“This decision favours the individual over massive corporations and is to be welcomed. It will be a massive relief to the tens of thousands of passengers who for months now have been trying to get refunds from airlines for promised flights that were cancelled. It is the correct approach that will vindicate and copper fasten the rights of airline passengers.
“Many airlines were refusing to refund passengers cash or were only offering vouchers, with many not even responding to passenger queries.
“Others were citing cash flow difficulties, blankly refusing a cash payment or using the COVID-19 pandemic to suggest that rules and regulations were somehow on hold or just didn’t apply.
“The promise of a flight voucher isn’t much use to someone facing into the loss of their job or those now on a decreased income trying to pay bills or meet mortgage repayments.
“Shamefully, Ireland’s caretaker Fine Gael government, along with a powerful elite, were intensely lobbying the EU Commission to overturn the rights of citizens to their cash and siding with the wealthy airlines against the rights of ordinary citizens.
“Thankfully, that pressure didn’t deliver this time but many passengers are still left with unwanted airline vouchers.
“Passengers who felt compelled to take vouchers are still in a grey area and their rights need to be clarified and upheld.
“The Commission now intends to send letters to all EU member states to ensure that individual governments force airlines to respect the rights of all passengers and offer cash for cancelled flights.”