The European Commission has issued interpretive guidelines on EU passenger rights with regard to virus-related cancellations and it is a mixed bag for airlines.
The current disruptions are considered to be an extraordinary event, therefore passengers are not entitled to compensation for flights canceled less than two weeks before departure, whether the cancellation is due to a government order or abnormally low bookings.
When airlines cancel a flight, passengers are still entitled to choose between a refund; re-routing at the earliest opportunity; or re-routing at a date of the passenger's choosing. The EC did add that “earliest opportunity” in the current circumstances may be hard to define and passengers may face considerable delays. The EC will consider airlines have met their obligations when they inform passengers “as soon as possible” when another routing is available.
The EC has not made changes to the "right to care" on the other hand. Passengers who request a rerouting at the earliest opportunity are entitled to meals, lodging, and transportation still.
When it comes to passengers who choose to cancel their trip, the EC is not getting involved. Fare rues apply, unless airlines choose to go above and beyond.https://ec.europa.eu/transport/sites/tr ... 201830.pdf
The Airline4Europe (A4E) lobby and IATA are disappointed. They had three asks of the EC and got only one:
- No compensation for flights canceled within two weeks of departure;
- Waiver of the "right to care" provisions;
- Right to issue vouchers for future trips rather than refunds.
They will now make their case to EU member countries to try and get them to amend the EU's passenger rights legislation.