The European Commission issued this week guidelines to ensure that EU passenger rights are applied in a consistent manner across the EU.
National governments have introduced different measures, including travel restrictions and border controls. The purpose of the guidelines is to reassure passengers that their rights are protected.
“In light of the mass cancellations and delays passengers and transport operators face due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Commission wants to provide legal certainty on how to apply EU passenger rights,” said Adina Valean, Commissioner for Transport.
“In case of cancellations the transport provider must reimburse or re-route the passengers.”
If passengers face the cancellation of their journey, for example, they can choose between reimbursement of the ticket price or re-routing to reach their final destination at a later stage.
At the same time, the guidelines clarify that the current circumstances are “extraordinary”, with the consequence that certain rights – such as compensation in case of flight cancellation less than two weeks from departure date – may not be invoked.
In the Commission’s original press release, the Commissioner said that, “If passengers themselves decide to cancel their journeys, reimbursement of the ticket depends on its type, and companies may offer vouchers for subsequent use.”
The guidelines are interpretative of existing directives and do not appear to confer any new rights to passengers.
Asked by The Brussels Times to explain the Commissioner’s statement, a spokesperson replied that the Commission might issue a clarification.