Coronavirus Passenger Rights, Update 1.6.2020

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Author: Myra Cecilia Azzopardi
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Update 1.6.2020 in green text

Update 24.5.2020 from the Moncloa website.

The Ministry of Consumer Affairs has detected a series of breaches by airlines in the information that they must give to the consumer to guarantee their right to reimbursement.

The minister, Alberto Garzón, has already sent a communication to the airlines to remind them of their obligations, according to the recent European Commission Recommendation C (2020) 3125, dated May 13. In it, the Commission recalls the conditions for the issuance of the bonds by airlines as an alternative to the reimbursement of package tours and cancelled transport services in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ministry has observed that several airlines operating in Spain are not providing the correct information to users who, due to the cancellation of flights due to the pandemic, opt for their right to reimbursement. Hindering the user’s access to their right to reimbursement does not comply with the recommendations of the European Union. For this reason, Garzón has addressed the presidents of airlines and industry associations to remind them of their obligation to include in communications and messages addressed to passengers the procedure for those who want to request a refund of money. Both the alternative bonus and the right to reimbursement must appear clearly and accessible in the information of the airlines. Otherwise, the Ministry of Consumption plans to exercise a cessation action against companies that do not comply with the regulations. As published by the government on June 1st:
Cessation Action
In situations of this type, the General Law for the Defense of Consumers and Users enables the General Directorate of Consumption to file an injunction when the rights of consumers are being violated. Specifically, article 54.3 a) of this norm establishes that it is the responsibility of Consumer “the preparation of legal actions in representation of the collective interests of consumers”.

With all this, Consumption considers it justified to resort to the cessation route in the face of what it considers an omission of misleading information by the airlines, which constitutes an infringement of the consumer defense regulations and an injury to the collective interests of hundreds of thousands of passengers.

The 17 airlines reported by the Ministry of Consumer Affairs are: Air Europa, Air France, Binter Canarias, EasyJet, Eurowings, Iberia (Iberia Express and Air Nostrum), Jet 2, KLM, Latam Airlines, Lufthansa, Ryanair, Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) , Transavia, Thomson Airways (TUI), United Airlines, Volotea and Wizzair.

The European Commission allows airlines the right to issue vouchers as an attractive and reliable alternative to money reimbursement, but notes the voluntary nature of the acceptance of the voucher by the passenger or traveller. In case of not being accepted by the client, the airline must make the refund of the total amount of the ticket within seven days of the passenger’s request.

The Commission also recalls that redemption in the form of a voucher is only possible with the agreement of the passenger, as set out in Article 8.1.a) of Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 February 2004. This text establishes common rules on compensation and assistance to air passengers in the event of denied boarding and of cancellation or long delay of flights.

The ministry also informs that, in the event that the passenger has accepted the voucher without the company clearly offering them the option of reimbursement as an alternative, that consent will be considered flawed, as he does not have all the relevant information. In such a case, the consumer will continue to maintain their right to reimbursement.

Originally published on 18.3.2020: COMMUNICATION FROM THE EU COMMISSION

Interpretative Guidelines on EU passenger rights regulations in the context of the developing situation with Covid-19.

 

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Please note: The information provided is based upon our understanding of current legislation. It is not legal advice but is provided freely to enable you to be properly informed. We recommend that if you are considering taking action, you should seek professional advice.

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