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European airlines pledge to refund costs of cancelled flight tickets in 7 days

Sixteen European airlines have agreed to reimburse passengers fully within seven days in the event of future flight cancellations and clear the backlog of refunds caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the European Commission has announced.

European airlines pledge to refund costs of cancelled flight tickets in 7 days
16 airlines, including Air France and easyJet have agreed to refund passengers within seven days. Photo: Joel Saget / AFP

After talks with the Commission, the airlines – including popular budget carriers Ryanair and easyJet – also agreed to better inform travellers when companies would cancel flights – and to only offer vouchers as an additional option for passengers.

The other European airlines that have signed up to fully comply with EU rules dating back to 2004 are Air France, KLM, Lufthansa, Aegean Airlines, Alitalia, Austrian Airlines, British Airways, Brussels Airlines, Eurowings, Iberia, Norwegian, TAP, Vueling and Wizz Air.

“In the early phase of the pandemic, some airlines pushed vouchers on passengers,” Didier Reynders, European commissioner for justice, said in a statement. “They were acting against EU consumer protection rules. That was unacceptable.

“It is good news for consumers that airlines have cooperated (…) and are committed to respecting passenger rights and improving their communication.”

The Commission welcomed news that the most of the Covid-19 backlog of refunds ‘ha[s] been dealt with, and that all airlines concerned have undertaken to resolve remaining problems’.

The Bureau européen des unions de consommateurs (Beuc), which led the original complaint against the airlines to the EU in July 2020, called on the Commission and national authorities charged with enforcing EU consumer protection laws to ensure that these commitments are respected. 

The association’s director Monique Goyens said in a statement: “Airlines have breached European consumer rights on a massive scale during the pandemic.

“It’s time for airlines to clean up their act … Many consumers across Europe are still waiting for their money back, for flights cancelled during the first lockdowns in 2020.”

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Ryanair to raise flight ticket prices in Austria

The low-cost airline said it would increase ticket costs for flights to and from Austria.

Ryanair to raise flight ticket prices in Austria

Ryanair, which also owns popular Austrian carrier Lauda Europe, will raise its prices – but moderately – due to inflation, the company said.

Ryanair Austria head Andreas Gruber added that the days of flying almost for free are over: “There will be no more 10-euro tickets”, he told Austrian press.

The average price for a Ryanair flight will rise from €40 to €50 in the future. Still, the Irish airline expects the number of passengers to grow in the coming months as people start looking for cheaper transportation with the rising cost of living.

Just as with grocery shopping, with people increasingly buying at discount stores, so will travellers start paying more attention to the prices of tickets, Gruber expects. In Vienna, the number of passengers is expected to rise from six million this year to 6.5 million the following year.

READ ALSO: From inflation to Covid: What to expect from Austria’s winter season

Ryanair also starts operating from Klagenfurt in November when it expects an influx of 50,000 to 60,000 passengers. The company said that ticket bookings have been as high as expected, especially with people looking to fly to London-Stansted.

Gruber also sees Ryanair on the rise in competition with Austrian Airlines (AUA). “We offer more destinations on short and medium-haul routes than AUA from Vienna,” said the executive, adding that the market share in Vienna is currently 25 percent.

READ ALSO: EU delays passport scan system and €7 travel fee until 2023

New winter routes to and from Vienna

The airline recently announced eight new routes that would be included in the program of its flights scheduled to and from Vienna, as The Local reported.

The new routes are Bremen (Germany), Manchester (England), Copenhagen (Denmark), Helsinki (Finland), Genoa and Venice (Italy), Tuzla (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and Sibiu (Romania).

READ ALSO: Ryanair announces eight new routes from Vienna for winter 2022

Ryanair said it is investing €1.7 billion in its Vienna hub, which means that a total of 17 aircraft will be stationed in Austria’s capital. The airline will operate more than 600 flights a week to and from the capital and will create 600 jobs for the season.

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