The Dutch government has changed its tune about flight ticket refunds and will now ask airlines and holiday firms to give clients back their cash if they request it, transport minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen confirmed to MPs on Thursday.
The u-turn follows a letter sent to 12 EU countries by the European Commission reminding them that under EU law passengers have the right to a refund rather than a voucher. In addition, the commission has come up with a list of recommendations to make vouchers more attractive to consumers.
Van Nieuwenhuizen said in her briefing to MPs that she is still appealing to passengers to accept the vouchers, as long as this will not cause them financial problems, a position outlined earlier this week by commission vice president Margrethe Vestager.
To this end, the commission suggests vouchers be protected against the airline going bankrupt, be valid for a minimum of 12 months, and be refundable after at most one year, if not redeemed. They should also give passengers sufficient flexibility, allow them to travel under the same conditions, and be transferable.
Van Nieuwenhuizen said in April she had decided to turn a blind eye to airlines breaking the rules to protect their financial position.
In response to the new government position, KLM has announced that vouchers for cancelled flights will be issued at 115% of the original value if people choose these over a refund.
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