The Ministry of Consumer Affairs has detected a series of breaches by airlines in the information that they must give to the consumer to guarantee their right to reimbursement.

The minister, Alberto Garzón, has already sent a communication to the airlines to remind them of their obligations, according to the recent Recommendation C (2020) 3125 final of the European Commission, dated May 13. In it, the Commission recalls the conditions for the issuance of the bonds by airlines as an alternative to the reimbursement of package tours and canceled transport services in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Ministry has observed that several airlines operating in Spain are not providing correct information to users who, due to the cancellation of flights due to the pandemic, opt for their right to reimbursement. Hindering the user's access to their right to reimbursement does not comply with the recommendations of the European Union. For this reason, Garzón has addressed the presidents of airlines and industry associations to remind them of their obligation to include in communications and messages addressed to passengers the procedure for those who want to request a refund of money. Both the alternative bonus and the right to reimbursement must appear clearly and accessible in the information of the airlines. Otherwise, the Ministry of Consumption plans to exercise the cessation action against companies that do not comply with the regulations.

The European Commission allows airlines the right to issue vouchers as an attractive and reliable alternative to money reimbursement, but notes the voluntary nature of the acceptance of the voucher by the passenger or traveler. In case of not being accepted by the client, the airline must reimburse the total amount of the ticket within seven days of the passenger's request.

The European Commission recalls that redemption in the form of a voucher is only possible with the agreement of the passenger, as set out in article 8.1.a) of Regulation (EC) No. 261/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 February 2004. This text establishes common rules on compensation and assistance to air passengers in case of denied boarding and of cancellation or long delay of flights.

The Ministry also informs that, in the event that the passenger has accepted the voucher without the company clearly offering them the option of reimbursement as an alternative, this consent will be considered flawed, as they do not have all the relevant information. In such case, the consumer will continue to maintain his right to reimbursement.

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