European airlines are refusing to provide refunds to customers whose flights have been canceled due to COVID-19 in violation of European Union regulations.
I rules require travelers to receive a refund within seven days, but most carriers retain refunds and offer travel vouchers or a free rebooking.
It occurs despite massive redemptions of airlines by national governments.
Air France has received a 7 billion euro loan, but customers are being told they will have to wait a year before they can get their money back.
An Air France spokesman told Euronews: “Given the lack of visibility in relation to the date when a moderate recovery in operations may occur, Air France currently maintains its deferred refund policy for canceled airline tickets as a result of the crisis of Covid-19 . "
It is the same at KLM, which is in partnership with Air France. The Dutch government offered a bailout of up to € 4 billion.
Easyjet, which secured a € 686 million bailout from the UK government, insists that customers can get a refund by calling their support line, but passengers have complained about long waiting times.
A representative said, "Customers on canceled flights can transfer to an alternative flight for free or receive a voucher for the amount of their online reservation or request a refund through our contact center."
Brussels weighs in
In March, the EU published guidelines reiterating that customers are entitled to refunds.
"If the carrier proposes a voucher, this offer cannot affect the passenger's right to choose a refund," he said.
The bloc's head of transport, Adina Vălean, suggested that the EU could intervene: "We continue to monitor the rapidly evolving situation and, if necessary, other measures will be taken".
Turbulent times ahead
Airlines were severely affected by the COVID-19 crisis. The pan-European air traffic control network Eurogroup says there are 87% fewer flights than at this time last year and that one million flights have been canceled since the crisis began
The International Air Transport Association, which represents the interests of airlines, estimates that customers owe 32.3 billion euros.
Still, on a blog On the IATA website, the organization's CEO, Alexandre de Juniac, said that carriers cannot pay the huge sum: “I am supporting airlines (and our travel and tourism partners) in their request that governments delay the requirement for immediate refund. "
However, consumer groups say that customers need their money back now.
Customers seek return
One way for terrified travelers to recover the cost of a canceled trip is by reversing their credit cards. O European Consumer Center France says customers can ask the credit card company to make a refund if a company doesn't provide the service you paid for.
“First try to find a solution directly with the trader, if possible in writing. If the trader does not react, refuses to refund or proceed with delivery, or if the trader goes bankrupt, send a dispute to the credit card issuer and / or your bank. If the credit card issuer or the bank refuses to reimburse you, contact the bank's mediator. "