Green Party spokesperson for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Steven Matthews TD, has called for the European legislation that gives airline customers a choice of getting a cash refund to remain in place throughout the Covid-19 crisis.
Following the announcement that the Irish Government had joined 11 other EU countries in calling for airlines to be allowed to provide vouchers in lieu of cash refunds to customers who have had flights cancelled, Deputy Matthews said:
“I understand where the Government is coming from on this but we are calling for a different approach. The existing legislation gives customers the choice to get a cash refund if their flight is cancelled and that should remain the case.
“There has been a lot of confusion around this for airline customers and I have been contacted by constituents who were initially promised cash refunds but have since only been offered vouchers.
“Foreign holidays are not likely to be an option for Irish people this summer and our own native tourist sector will suffer massively due to the lack of tourists arriving here. Once it is safe to do so, we need to start looking at holidaying at home as an option this summer. Airlines providing cash refunds will give customers an incentive to use that money on a holiday at home instead.
“I totally accept that the airline industry has been badly impacted by this crisis, but our native tourist sector is facing into a situation where many businesses will struggle to survive without significant footfall from Irish people this summer.
“In some cases, a refund may not be a significant sum, but it may be the difference between someone choosing to take their family on a day out or not, once it is safe to do so.”
“In this instance the legislation is explicit; where flights are cancelled passengers must be offered the choice of a refund, re-routing at the earliest opportunity, or re-routing at a later date.
“I appreciate the unprecedented nature of this crisis and I understand the difficulties that airlines are currently facing, but surely we must realise our duty to ensure that the rights of Irish consumers are not infringed upon?”
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