BRUSSELS – eu travel tech, the industry association for technology travel services and ECTAA, the European travel agents’ and tour operators’ association, welcome the announcement of the European Commission and the Consumer Protection Cooperation Network regarding commitments made by 16 major European airlines on their cancellation and reimbursement practices.
This outcome is a result of a collective action launched by CPC authorities in February 2021. The commitments made by airlines relate to increased transparency for consumers, reimbursement for unused vouchers and a clearing of the vast reimbursement backlog. Airlines have thus committed to finally address their complete disregard for the refund obligation provided under EU passenger rights legislation. For many consumers, it will be a relief to finally receive their money back for a flight that was cancelled due to COVID-19 many months ago.
Eu travel tech and ECTAA urge the European Commission and CPC authorities to monitor closely the implementation of these commitments and of airlines’ general respect for passengers’ rights. Should airlines fail to live up to their promises, appropriate enforcement measures should be taken immediately. It is crucial that consumer trust be rebuilt with a more stringently enforced EU consumer protection framework in air travel.
Said ECTAA President, Pawel Niewiadomski: “This is certainly good news for both consumers and travel agents who are struggling to obtain refunds for their customers. However, it is a pity that this commitment is not extended to flights that are part of a package, which is just pushing down the problem to the tour operators. In addition, this voluntary commitment does not exempt the national enforcement bodies and the European Commission to ensure that all airlines do effectively respect EU passenger rights.”
Emmanuel Mounier, Secretary-General of eu travel tech said: “We have long advocated for stronger enforcement of consumer rights, in light of airlines’ cancellation and refund practices during the COVID-19 crisis, which have harmed both consumers and travel technology businesses. The new commitments by airlines are a step in the right direction, but authorities must ensure airlines are held to their word. In this context, we are disappointed to see that certain airlines still refuse to comply with the law and refund their customers for unilaterally imposed vouchers.”