By now, the majority of people are aware COVID-19 has spread to most parts of the world, significantly disrupting public life, including air travel.
One of the negative effects of the outbreak is the confusion amongst both passengers and airlines. The Association of Passenger Rights Advocates (APRA) exists to assist all air passengers and defend their rights. It is our belief that passengers deserve legal clarity and certainty in the current situation.
That is why all members will be adopting the collective view that disruptions caused directly by the Coronavirus should be considered as extraordinary circumstances. This reflects the fact that the situation with COVID-19 is outside of the scope of airlines’ control.
Airlines will still be responsible for providing care for their passengers, and APRA remains committed to protecting the rights of vulnerable air passengers throughout the crisis.
APRA President Adeline Noorderhaven said: “Our members have already proactively started refusing COVID-19-related flight passenger compensation claims. Air passengers are a very vulnerable group of consumers. It is our mission to defend them whenever their rights are not answered. We do however find it important to be realistic and reasonable. Legal clarity and certainty are of the utmost importance in the current situation. In our view, the current Corona crisis has spun beyond reasonable control for the airlines and should be categorized as extraordinary. By assessing claims on a case-by-case basis, we help the passenger whilst at the same time keeping the workload of the airlines manageable. Nobody benefits from overwhelmed court systems, confused passengers and frustrated airlines”.
“We do however wish to stress that, now more than ever, it is crucial to maintain a rock-solid passenger rights framework. As stated by a number of large airlines, this crisis is likely going to accelerate the ongoing competition battle within the aviation industry, to the detriment of smaller airlines. This inevitably means a significant reduction in consumer choice, higher prices and an oligopoly-like situation, leaving the passenger even more vulnerable. We must not forget that the passenger is and should remain the focal point. We will keep working closely with the EU Institutions and trust they will deal with this crisis adequately,” Noorderhaven said.
This article was released by the Association of Passenger Rights Advocates (APRA).