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Coronavirus: EU passenger rights clarified

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Coronavirus: EU passenger rights clarified

Athens Airport - Photo By Leonid Mamchenkov

(BRUSSELS) - As efforts continue to mitigate the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Commission published Wednesday guidelines to ensure EU passenger rights are applied in a coherent manner.

National governments have introduced different measures, including travel restrictions and border controls. The Commission says the purpose of these guidelines is to reassure passengers that their rights are protected.

"In light of the mass cancellations and delays passengers and transport operators face due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Commission wants to provide legal certainty on how to apply EU passenger rights," said the Transport Commissioner Adina Valean: "In case of cancellations the transport provider must reimburse or re-route the passengers. If passengers themselves decide to cancel their journeys, reimbursement of the ticket depends on its type, and companies may offer vouchers for subsequent use."

The Commission says it will continue to monitor the rapidly evolving situation, and, if need be, further steps will be taken.

This guidance will help passengers, the industry and national authorities in this unprecedented situation, with important passenger travel restrictions imposed by national governments and knock-on effects on transport services across the EU.

By introducing clarity, the guidelines are also expected to help reduce costs for the transport sector, which is heavily affected by the outbreak. The guidelines cover the rights of passengers when travelling by air, rail, ship or bus/coach, maritime and inland waterways, as well as the corresponding obligations for carriers.

If passengers face the cancellation of their journey, for example, they can choose between reimbursement of the ticket price or re-routing to reach their final destination at a later stage.

At the same time, the guidelines clarify that the current circumstances are "extraordinary", with the consequence that certain rights - such as compensation in case of flight cancellation less than two weeks from departure date - may not be invoked.

Interpretative Guidelines on EU passenger rights regulations in the context of the developing situation with Covid-19

EU Passenger Rights

Overview of national measures by country

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