EU consumer rights violated by airlines during Covid-19

The European Consumer Organisation has accused major airlines - including Air France, EasyJet and Ryanair - of violating passengers’ rights over reimbursements for cancelled flights during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

23 July 2020
An Air France plane taking off. European consumer rights have been ‘violated’ by airlines during Covid-19The European Commission has said that customer rights, including the right to refunds for cancelled flights, should be honoured despite unprecedented circumstances for airlines
By Joanna York

The European Consumer organisation (Bureau Européen des Unions de Consommateurs (Beuc)) represents 44 consumer rights organisations from 32 European countries. The organisation says it has been inundated with thousands of complaints about airlines from European consumers since the pandemic began. 

In a statement released yesterday (July 22) director-general of Beuc, Monique Goyens, said: “Since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis numerous airlines have made a mockery of consumer rights.

"They have deprived customers of their right to reimbursements for cancelled flights, and have tricked customers by providing them with information that is partial, incorrect, or unclear on what their rights are.”

Beuc have brought their findings to the European Commission and national consumer rights organisations, signalling the issue as an “extreme alert”. 

Throughout the Covid-19 crisis, the European Commission has maintained that customer rights, including the right to refunds for cancelled flights, should be honoured despite unprecedented circumstances for airlines.

Read more: Travel firms must offer cancellation refunds - EU

 

Eight airlines singled out

While Beuc found malpractice throughout the airline sector, it singled out eight companies that had received the most complaints from European consumers since the start of the pandemic.

These were: Aegean, Air France, EasyJet, KLM, Norwegian, Ryanair, TAP Portugal, and Transavia.

Now Beuc has brought the issue to the European Commission an enquiry can begin. The European Commission has 11 organisational members from different countries including consumer rights organisation l’UFC-Que Choisir in France.

Earlier this month, the European Commission launched infringement proceedings in ten EU countries, including France, to defend customers’ rights to refunds for flights that had been cancelled due to coronavirus. 

In the future, similar proceedings may also be referred to the European court of justice.  

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