Flight booked and immediately canceled, eye to the “pitfall” of some airlines
If this motivation could hold up until a few weeks ago, today, with the borders open and the airports back in operation, it is difficult to understand how the Covid-19 can force a carrier to cancel the flight. Nor do the companies make any effort to explain it. Thus there is doubt that this is just a way to retain customer money. In Italy, the law that converted the Cura Italia decree allows companies to issue only a voucher – and not a refund – in the event of a flight canceled for Coronavirus until 30 September. The law, which Antitrust criticized because it is in clear violation of European regulation 261, today falters but, in fact, is still in force and allows airlines to keep customers’ money in cash without providing the service, if not within a year .
Travel, the Antitrust Authority rejects vouchers instead of refunds: “They cannot be imposed”
ENAC had recalled these companies just on June 18. But meanwhile, reports continued to arrive and the authority decided to take the initiative. “It would seem that some airlines continue to cancel flights, citing the Covid-19 emergency (the cases envisaged in art. 88 bis of Law 24 April 2020, n. 27), and recognizing passengers only with a voucher” writes ENAC , which continues: “Since restrictions on the movement of natural persons within the national territory and in the European Schengen area, the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland have been lifted since 3 June, cancellations after that date would appear to have been made by commercial and entrepreneurial choices of the carriers, not for reasons attributable to the emergency “confirming the same impression that the customers remained with the match in hand.The ENAC “reminds” the companies that if a flight is canceled for needs “not connected to the Covid-19 emergency”, they must guarantee the re-protection or, if it is not possible or is not accepted, the refund of the ticket price and compensation, if the notice was less than 14 days. Exactly what is foreseen by the European regulation 261, which for years has established precise rules for the protection of travelers. In the midst of a pandemic, and in the midst of the air transport crisis, the regulation had been questioned by various parties, not only in Italy. Today, the “Bible” of travelers’ rights seems to have found consensus.
Consumer associations are satisfied, with Codacons now urging Antitrust and Rome prosecutors to move forward to punish an “unfair commercial practice that seems aimed at obtaining liquidity at the expense of consumers”. While the National Consumer Union asks ENAC to provide the maximum sanction envisaged, “in the shortest possible time”.