A dozen EU states will today call on Brussels to temporarily suspend a European law granting refunds for cancelled flights, Euronews understands.
France and the Netherlands will spearhead the push, which is expected to come during a meeting of European transport ministers.
The other countries behind the request are Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Malta, Poland and Portugal.
It comes amid anger from passengers who had their flights cancelled because of the coronavirus lockdowns but were only offered vouchers in compensation.
European regulations say passengers must be offered a refund if a flight is cancelled.
But there is now a push to get this EU law suspended temporarily to give struggling airlines vital breathing space.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on international transport, including air travel,” the 12 EU countries said in a joint statement (PDF download).
“An immense number of flights have been cancelled. Air carriers are no longer generating passenger business, yet they continue to incur high running costs.
“Because of this, Regulation EC (No) 261/2004 and its obligation to reimburse cancelled tickets in cash, if the passenger so decides, places airlines in a difficult situation where they are facing a serious cash flow challenge.
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“When the wording of the regulation was conceived, the current global crisis and its impact on air travel could not have been foreseen. The goal shared by the European Union and its member states must now be to preserve the structure of the European air traffic market beyond the current crisis, while considering the interests and necessary protection of passengers.”