Dutch Government agency fines 3 airlines for refusal to reimburse passengers after bankruptcy of travel organisation

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ILT fines airlines for poor compliance with passenger rights

The Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate (ILT) has imposed fines on KLM, Cathay Pacific Airways and Singapore Airlines of €40,100, €11,800 and 22,400 respectively. These airlines did not refund cancelled tickets to aggrieved passengers who had booked through the now-bankrupt D-reizen.

Their refuse is due to the fact that the airlines have previously refunded the tickets to D-reizen. Under the European Passenger Rights Regulation, passengers are entitled to a refund or rebooking if airlines cancel a flight. Even when that ticket was purchased through a travel agent or intermediary.

The ILT also imposes an order subject to a penalty on KLM, because KLM does not directly offer passengers who have booked through intermediaries the choice between a refund within 7 days or a rebooking. KLM has to adjust its website for this and is no longer allowed to refer back to the travel agent. It does not matter whether the passenger bought the plane ticket with the airline itself or through a travel agent. The airline remains responsible for the refund.

KLM has one month to comply with the burden and must then inform the ILT weekly about the progress. Every time ILT establishes that KLM does not comply, it forfeits a penalty that can amount to a total of € 500,000.

During the corona pandemic, major travel broker D-reizen went bankrupt. Due to the bankruptcy, the situation arose in which passengers did not receive the money back for a separate ticket that they bought via D-reizen. On the basis of the European regulation, the ILT has indicated to the airlines that they remain responsible for the reimbursement to the passenger.

The ILT carried out inspections in the autumn of 2021 and found that ticket reimbursement is better when the passenger has booked directly with the airline, compared to bookings through a travel agent. If a passenger buys an individual flight ticket through a travel agent, the passenger must also be able to contact the airline for a refund or rebooking if he is entitled to this under the Passenger Rights Regulation. Airlines are not allowed to refer to the travel agent for this. In the report, the ILT notes that a number of companies systematically violate these rules.

The ILT takes enforcement action against airlines that do not comply with the European regulation. Last year, the ILT informed the airlines involved that they remain responsible for the reimbursement to the passenger. In December 2021, the House of Representatives was notified that the ILT had sent intentions to impose a fine in the context of the bankruptcy of D-reizen. The ILT has now sent the final fine decisions to KLM, Cathay Pacific Airways and Singapore Airlines.

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