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EU’s Vestager Cautions Against Plans To Cancel Flight Refund Scheme

 |  April 30, 2020

The EU Commission’s Executive Vice-President has expressed caution over plans by a majority of member States to waive mandatory refunds for cancelled flights to help European airlines hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Euronews broke the news on Wednesday, April 29, that transport ministers from a majority of the bloc’s member States were lobbying the Commission to suspend rules forcing airlines to offer full refunds instead of a voucher for future travel.

The push, spearheaded by France and the Netherlands, aims to offer a financial lifeline to struggling airlines. “Air carriers are no longer generating passenger business, yet they continue to incur high running costs,” a joint statement read.

It added that the rule to offer a full refund for a cancelled flight “places airlines in a difficult situation where they are facing a serious cash flow challenge.”

But Margrethe Vestager, who also oversees the Commission’s Competition portfolio, appeared lukewarm about the proposal on Thursday.

“There are many passengers who would need the money. People may have lost their jobs, they may need money for medication, to pay their rent,” she said.

“I think it’s very different for someone like me, who are privileged, who have my high salary, of course, I can accept a voucher. But it is these differences that make it kind of difficult to say well, of course, everyone should accept a voucher,” she added.

Asked by Darren McCaffrey, Euronews’ Brussels correspondent, if the proposal would not amount to European citizens being forced to pay twice to bail out airlines given that many governments have already announced large sums of money to help national carriers, Vestager replied, “You can say that, yes.”

Full Content: Euro News

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