Flights canceled for Covid-19? The refund is due, not the voucher

Flights canceled for Covid-19? The refund is due, not the voucher

ENAC has threatened to sanction airlines that are canceling flights and offering passengers a voucher in return. Travelers are entitled to a refund of the amount

(Photo by CHRISTOF STACHE / AFP via Getty Images) Always a fairly consolidated practice because, in recent weeks, reports of those who have seen their flight canceled have been multiplying sudden for unspecified coronavirus-related disservices and then receive a voucher from the airline as a form of reimbursement. The Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC), already on June 18, reported this practice by stressing that the issuance of the voucher for canceled flights is not allowed by the EU regulation which, instead, provides for compensation for the traveler by returning the sum paid for the purchase of the flight. But nothing has changed and ENAC is considering sanctioning airlines if their behavior is not judged to conform to European standards.

The companies' strategy

"From June 3rd restrictions on the movement of people in Italy, the Schengen area, and the United Kingdom have been removed. Therefore, we believe that cancellations were made due to the commercial and business choices of the carriers, not for reasons attributable to the emergency ", explained the ENAC in a note. As reported by Corriere della Sera, some companies would be seeing hundreds of empty tickets on vehicles that are not yet functional or for sections not yet reachable (such as the one towards the Milan Linate airport, still closed) just to bring more liquidity into their cases, particularly in difficulty after the stop to national and international travel due to the coronavirus pandemic. In other cases, the flights booked would have so few passengers that it is more convenient for airlines to keep the aircraft on the ground than to get them off the ground.

For now, it is the assumption that it will be up to Enac to verify trying to protect the travellers that, according to the eu Regulation 261 of 2004 , are entitled to a full refund in case of delays, cancellations, overbooking and non-disclosure. The national consumers Union asks that the companies be punished “in the shortest possible time” .

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