The EU is assessing how to increase the protection of passenger rights, after two years of disruption caused by the pandemic.
The European Commission launched a public consultation to seek the public’s views in order to consolidate and simplify the EU’s laws on passenger rights, drawing lessons from the Covid-19 pandemic. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and A4E, the estimated refunds for unused plane tickets between March and May 2020 amounted to €9.2 billion in the EU and UK.
Despite current laws protecting passengers on all collective modes of transport — before, during and after their journey — challenges remain. These include, for example, the practicalities of applying passenger rights regulations, and problems due to delayed or cancelled flights around the EU in the summer of 2022.
The consultation contemplates the possibility to improve financial protection for air passengers against the risk of airline insolvencies and liquidity crises. It is also considering reimbursement of air passengers who book through an intermediary ticket vendor.
“We booked 2 flights for June 2021, in December 2020. 4 weeks later, due to health issues of a traveller, we requested cancelation of the flights. Well, after numerous requests and the departure dates arrived and went, we received an email saying no refund available even though we took out insurance. Now we are told it is up to the airline,” reads a passenger’s complaint regarding a booking via the online platform edreams.
The EU executive is also considering reimbursement in case an air passenger cancels because of a major crisis such as a pandemic or a natural disaster, passenger rights for journeys involving more than one transport mode, and improved enforcement of passenger rights in all transport modes.
If you have a storm or if you have a strike from the airport staff, for instance, which is an extraordinary circumstance, you don’t have the right to compensation.Steven Berger, a legal officer at The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC)
EU Commissioner for Transport Adina Vălean maintained the importance of gathering passengers’ views on the rights that protect them, especially taking into account the two years of pandemic-related disruptions.
We need to learn from recent experience and see how we can ensure the system’s resilience to extensive travel disruptions, across modes.Adina Vălean, EU Commissioner for Transport
With the ongoing Czech Presidency of the EU, the European Council had hinted about reviewing EU passenger compensation rights. A position from the Commission is expected in the first quarter of 2023.