Geneva/Brussels, Mar 19 (ANI): The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and Airlines for Europe (A4E) have reacted with dismay to the European Commission's new guidelines on the application of the EU261 passenger rights regime.
"The new guidelines are disappointing and unhelpful, falling far short of the simple and temporary alleviation airlines had requested for," they said in a joint statement.
IATA and A4E had called for recognition that no compensation is due in the event of cancellations due to COVID-19.
Besides, both organisations had called for a limitation on extensive obligations to provide care and assistance in the event of cancellations due to COVID-19.
They had also urged flexibility to allow airlines to offer rebooking or vouchers in place of refunds in the event of cancellations due to the pandemic.
"The commission appears to considerably underestimate the crisis afflicting airlines in Europe. Faced with a cashflow catastrophe, many airlines can only offer vouchers in lieu of immediate cash refunds for cancelled flights," said Rafael Schvartzman, IATA's Regional Vice President for Europe.
"The Commission needs to understand that fiddling at the edges will not keep airlines in any shape to get the economy moving again when the health crisis abates. This is not a short-term issue. Air connectivity will not be back to normal for many months. And for some airlines, things will never be the same again," he said.
A4E Managing Director Thomas Reynaert said the guidelines do not provide the clarity that cash-strapped EU airlines need.
"Given the extraordinary circumstances and financial pressures our airlines are facing if this is the Commission's view -- then an emergency amendment to Regulation 261 may be needed and will be welcomed by the sector," he said.
IATA represents some 290 airlines comprising 82 per cent of global air traffic. A4E is a trade association of Europe's five largest carriers.