There have been more class action suits filed in Israel against overseas airlines refusing to refund passengers who purchased tickets for flights that were then canceled due to Covid-19. Two class action suits were filed in court today against TAP Air Portugal and Transavia, the low-cost carrier of Air France-KLM.
Last week, the Israel Consumer Council filed a similar class action suit against United Airlines, Ukraine Airlines, Aegean Airlines and Vueling Airlines.
All these foreign airlines are bound by Israeli law to refund passengers within 21 days for flights that the airline itself cancels. However, all these airlines have been caught up in the worst crisis in aviation history and they prefer to keep the money and offer an alternative flight when international air traffic resumes. In most cases they do not inform the passenger, as Israeli law requires them to do, that it is their legal right to get their money back.
The Knesset is set to pass an amendment to the law this week extending the time in which the airlines are required to refund money from 21 days to 90 days, retroactive to March 1. Even so consumers will still be entitled to cash refunds.
The class action request against Transavia was submitted by Adv. Anat Ginzburg, who had paid NIS 10,000 to travel abroad with her family. Transavia said that according to the instructions of the Dutch government, passengers are entitled to a coupon for a future flight and not a refund.
The suit says, "It is totally unacceptable that customers are told by the respondent (the airline) that they must finance a flight that never took off, even if it resulted from force majeure. When a plane doesn't take off, there are all the savings entailed in not operating a flight …….. The respondent must immediately refund the value of the ticket when a flight is canceled without even having to be asked, that is something that is understood."
The suit adds that the EU Commissioner for Transport also requires companies to refund passengers for flights that are canceled, "and only if the passenger agrees to receive a coupon is it possible to do it that way."
The suit estimates that the damage to those filing the suit is NIS 78 million.
A second lawsuit against TAP Portugal Air was filed by Adv. Tal Sapir. The details are very similar to the Transavia case with the airline claiming that its policy is not to refund tickets but offer tickets for future flights valid for one year.
The plaintiffs bought a return ticket between Tel Aviv and Lisbon for about NIS 1,300 for April. The flight was canceled due to the coronavirus and the plaintiffs refused the future flight offered. The group filing the class action suit against TAP is demanding NIS 19 million at an average of $350 per ticket and NIS 100 damages for each claim.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on April 19, 2020
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