Jack Quann
Jack Quann

10.45 23 Apr 2020


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A consumer expert says airlines can offer customers vouchers for cancelled flights - but this must be alongside the refund they are owed.

Host of 'The Home Show' on Newstalk Sinead Ryan says many consumers have contacted her about airline refunds in the face of COVID-19.

She told Pat Kenny: "The situation is that consumer law is very, very clear and very strong when it comes to cancelled flights.

"EU261 provides that you're entitled - immediately - to a refund, a rerouting or a rescheduling."

She says Ryanair have told customers they will not be issuing refunds until the coronavirus emergency has passed.

"That leaves people in a limbo, because what does that mean?

"is it next week, is it when the restrictions are lifted, if it after Christmas?

"It really is very, very unfair."

"Now there is a trade-off here... because there's airline across the world suffering because of this pandemic.

"And regulators are kind of saying 'yes, we know that people are allowed refunds under the law - but if we give them to everybody, an airline could go under because of it'.

"That's not true when it comes to Ryanair and Aer Lingus - they've plenty of money and there's no reason they can't offer refunds.

"It's fine to offer vouchers... but it has to be alongside the refund that you are entitled to by law under the EU261 rule".

It comes after Business Minister Heather Humphreys said  she is in contact with the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) over the issue.

Speaking earlier this week, Minister Humphreys said: "We're certainly looking at that matter."

"The CCPC will certainty look at all of those issues and I am in conversation with them."

She said: "It's important that people do get refunded for the cost for flights that were cancelled."

"They're entitled to their money back obviously under law, so therefore they should get their money back under law.

"But there are some issues that need to be teased out yet, and I'm working with the Consumer Protection Commission on that matter.

"A refund is absolutely - there's no doubt about that - but whether it's a cash refund or whether it's through vouchers, as I said, I'm looking at that at the minute".

Airline vouchers must be "alongside refund" for cancelled flights, expert says

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Airline Refunds Business Minister Heather Humphreys CCPC Cancelled Flights Consumer Expert Coronavirus EU261 Pat Kenny Sinead Ryan

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