Drapeaux européens devant le Berlaymont

Brussels threatens Portugal with legal action over refusal to give cash refunds for cancelled flight bookings

Brussels is threatening Portugal and nine other European member states with legal action over their refusal to sanction ‘cash refunds’ for people whose flights were cancelled as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak.

The Commission has given all those notified – Portugal, France, Greece, Italy, Croatia, Poland, Lithuania, Slovakia, Cyprus and the Czech Republic – two months to ‘respond’ and take the necessary measures “to make up for the failings identified”.

If they don’t, the Commission “could decide to send ‘reasoned opinions’ which would represent the final step in an infringement procedure which could end up in the European Court of Justice.

For people who were refused cash refunds for cancelled flights and bookings this year and only offered vouchers, this will be ‘music to the ears’.

A number of Resident readers have been in touch over the past weeks, complaining bitterly that they had been denied cash refunds for flights cancelled as a result of the pandemic.

Explain reports, community legislation protecting the rights of passengers is clear: vouchers can be offered, but if passengers prefer a cash refund, they should be given one.

The fact that they may not have been in 10 Member States appears to be due to those countries applying ‘national rules’, in contravention, clearly, to European Law.

Expresso adds that in the middle of May, the Commission ‘adopted a specific recommendation on vouchers in the context of the crisis provoked by the Covid-19 pandemic’, alerting Portugal and 11 other countries at the time to the possibility of incurring infringement procedures if they didn’t offer ‘satisfactory answers’ within a period of two weeks.

At the time, Brussels stressed that these vouchers should be able to be converted into cash if the vouchers were not used within a period of 12 months.

Expresso adds that in cases where people are only offered vouchers but would prefer the cash, they should insist, or file a complaint to national consumer protection authorities.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com