30 April 2020
By Bryan Smyth
“European airlines need to stop messing their customers about and start paying out refunds when requested by their passengers,” said Cork based Fianna Fáil MEP, Billy Kelleher.
The Renew Europe MEP was commenting following a public outcry on the manner in which airlines are treating their customers and reports that the Irish Government are supportive of the airlines’ attempts to delay or deny refunds for cancelled flights.
“I am deeply concerned that such a fundamental change to passenger rights is being supported by the Irish Government. Reports are emerging that Ireland has joined with 11 other member states in supporting a downgrading of the rights of passengers to receive a refund.
“We must also remember that the European Parliament voted to waive the rule that obliged planes to fly, even when they had no passengers, in order to keep their airport slots. It’s now time those airlines repaid that support by facilitating passengers to seek the refunds they are entitled to.
“In the last few days, I’ve been disturbed to hear many stories of airlines, such as Ryanair, making it very hard, sometimes next to impossible, to claim refunds for cancelled flights.
“The regulations are quite clear: refunds should be processed, once applied for, within seven business days of the flight being cancelled. I accept that the volume of requests being made is considerably larger than normal, and some delays may happen. However, the sheer unwillingness of these airlines to give refunds is bewildering.
“Last month, the European Parliament voted to waive the so-called “Ghost Flights” rule that forced airlines to keep planes in the air, even if they had no passengers, to keep their slots at the various airports.
“The parliament saw the need to support the airline industry. It’s now high time the airlines showed their gratitude by making it clear to passengers when they are entitled to refund and to offering a simple and transparent process to claim and receive these refunds.
“Of course, for certain passengers, a voucher may be more suitable, but for many families, they need their money back in their bank accounts as quickly as possible.
“I am calling on the airline industry, and in particular, the Irish airlines, to do the right thing. Minister Shane Ross should immediately outline the government’s position and rationale in joining such a campaign. Yes, we need connectivity as an island nation, but passengers need to have their long standing rights protected,” concluded Kelleher.