‘Passengers have the right’ to refund when flight is cancelled, says regulator

Commission for Aviation Regulation states customers can also accept a voucher instead

The aviation regulator has moved to reassure anyone whose flights were cancelled as a result of Covid-19 that they are entitled to a refund.

In a statement on Thursday night, the Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR) said while customers could accept a voucher when offered they are within their rights to opt for a refund.

“Passengers have the right to choose a refund of the ticket price paid when their flight is cancelled,” it said in a statement on Thursday, referencing European regulations.

“Airlines are entitled to offer vouchers to passengers. Passengers can choose to accept a voucher but are under no obligation to do so.”


The statement follows anger among grounded customers at being pressed to accept vouchers instead of refunds.

Protecting businesses

Minister for Transport Shane Ross’s department had said that although passengers remain legally entitled to full refunds if flights are cancelled, it had to protect businesses and jobs in the travel and airline sector.

On Monday, it emerged that Ryanair had joined a significant number of other airlines, including Aer Lingus, in primarily offering vouchers to passengers whose flights have been cancelled as the coronavirus crisis continues. Some customers had been told their refunds were being processed.

Thursday’s clarity from the regulator will be welcome. European law requires an airline to pay a refund within seven days and there is a complaint mechanism open to those who wish to pursue it.

“We acknowledge the unprecedented disruption that Covid-19 has caused to the aviation sector and those working in it, the high volume of calls that airlines are dealing with and the absolute need to safeguard the welfare of staff,” the CAR said.

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times