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EU launches legal action against Greece and Italy for violating passenger rights

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The European Commission on Thursday decided to take greater action in the infringement procedure against Greece and Italy, for violating passenger rights amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The two countries on Thursday received a letter of formal notice by EU’s Executive, due to the legislation they adopted, allowing airlines to offer vouchers instead of reimbursement for cancelled flights, with passengers forced to agree to this solution. However, current EU rules dictate that passengers are entitled to a financial reimbursement if preferred.

Greece and Italy are now left with two months to prove they have amended the drawback in their legal framework.

“Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many companies in the transport sector have been faced with unsustainable cash flows and revenue situations. Throughout this crisis, the Commission has consistently made clear that passenger rights remain valid in the current unprecedented context and national measures to support the industry must not lower them,” the Commission wrote.

The Commission encouraged carriers to make vouchers an “attractive” option for passengers who see their travel arrangements cancelled. However, “passenger rights remain valid in the current unprecedented context and national measures to support the industry must not lower them”.

The EU’s Executive move was part of a wider action against ten EU member-states that breached the Package Travel Directive, with Croatia, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Greece, France, Italy, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal and Slovakia, requested to comply with their obligations under EU law.

Greece was one of the effective European countries in handling the pandemic, containing the spread of COVID-19 infections to 2,770 confirmed cases and 156 deaths.

In preparation for the resumption of flights, Aegean said it has already stepped up precautionary measures, including the mandatory use of masks during flights and aircraft cleaning and disinfection procedures.
April saw Greece suffer a 98.7 percent travel drop, with travel receipts standing at 7 million euros.

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