The Malta Independent 25 May 2020, Monday

Forcing immediate refunds to passengers for cancelled flights would harm airlines – PL MEP

Thursday, 9 April 2020, 19:19 Last update: about 3 months ago

Forcing airlines to refund passengers for cancelled flights immediately would signify the death knell for many European airlines, Maltese MEP Josianne Cutajar told the Socialist and Democrat MEPs in a letter, while also emphasising the importance of consumer rights.

The Maltese MEP claimed that thousands of employees depended on these airlines, and the tourism sector, an essential sector, rests completely on aviation. "Over and above the calculated global loss of €60 billion for airlines, it is predicted that the impact of the current situation will will be felt for a considerable period, with air travel decreasing an expected 20% next year."

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"We have to be sensitive and sensible," asserted Cutajar. "The negative impact will hit hardest those consumers we want to protect the most."

She therefore called for "reasonable solutions which do not pose an undue burden on airlines, and at the same time do not force consumers to bear the brunt of the industry's challenges. The sector would greatly benefit from offering consumers the chance to benefit from a product of higher value than what they paid for usable at any time, and at the same time the consumer would not be prejudiced."

In the last weeks, the European Union temporarily suspended the regulations on airline slots to decrease the expected losses. It also suspended its rules on State Aid, thus facilitating assistance to companies at risk.

In her message, Cutajar emphasised the importance of transparency and constant dialogue at a European level, in order to find the best solutions. "In the last weeks, together with the European Parliament's Tourism Task Force, Cutajar called for a European Action Plan to save the tourism sector. In parallel, she has also initiated talks with local stakeholders," the statement read.

"My call for sensitivity applies to all cases and sectors in the current circumstances. We can avoid situations of employee against employer, landlord against lessee, seller against buyer, by making reasonable choices that consider everyone's future," concluded Cutajar.


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