The European confederation of travel agents’ and tour operators’ associations ECTAA has urged the EC and European governments to enforce the law on airline refunds.
ECTAA joined the EU Travel Tech association in demanding EU action, accusing some carriers of misleading consumers and arguing: “Airlines’ refusal to refund travel companies and their customers has to stop.”
EU Travel Tech represents online travel agents (OTAs), Global Distribution Systems (GDSs) and travel metasearch sites.
In a joint statement, the associations accused “several airlines” of “still not refunding” tickets or “massively delaying” refunds a year into the crisis.
They said: “Airline refund obligations must apply to both B2B and B2C products.
“Public announcements by some airlines stating refunds have been made leave a wrong impression. Many airlines still have a backlog of refund requests.”
Airlines are required to refund bookings for cancelled flights within seven days of cancellation under EU Regulation 261 on air passenger rights.
Tour operators, travel agents and OTAs are required to make refunds within 14 days of cancelled package holidays.
However, ECTAA and EU Travel Tech noted many airlines have been slow to make refunds, making it hard for tour operators and agents to refund their clients.
They said: “A number of airlines have refunded travel companies who in turn were able to refund their customers.
“However, several airlines continue to delay or ignore refund requests, putting Iata-accredited travel agents under financial pressure as customers claim a refund.
“Travel companies face accusations of not fulfilling their refund obligations. [But] it is impossible for them to get outstanding refunds processed by several airlines.”
The associations argued: “This is not only damaging customers, it threatens to damage the reputation of businesses and negatively impact on consumer confidence.
“The problem is enforcement. National Enforcement Bodies seem reluctant to act.”
ECTAA president Pawel Niewiadomski said: “It is unacceptable that some airlines continue to refuse refunds to travel companies and consequently their customers. It has to stop.”
Emmanuel Mounier, secretary-general of EU Travel Tech, said “Travel agents are urging airlines to comply with their refund obligations and call on the European institutions to improve the legal framework applicable to flight and package refunds.”
They added: “Competition authorities have been requested to make state aid to airlines conditional on processing refunds.
“But despite billions of euros received from taxpayers, some airlines continue to refuse or massively delay refunds to travel companies and their customers.”
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