A Cork Sinn Féin TD has said the Fine Gael party is out of touch with the people, following an MEP's call for customers to accept airline vouchers instead of refunds if their flights have been cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Fine Gael’s Deirdre Clune said that consumers should consider taking vouchers instead of refunds as it could contribute to the long term viability of the airline.
The European Commission has said that people are entitled to cash refunds for flight cancellations, while also saying that it “has to be balanced with the unprecedented circumstances of Covid-19.”
Sinn Féin’s Thomas Gould said it’s unfair and unrealistic to expect passengers to carry the financial burden of this when so many are already concerned about their own finances.
"I was surprised by Deirdre Clune's comments. The financial circumstances of so many people affected by flight cancellations have changed dramatically as result of the Covid-19 emergency.
"Many people have seen their income reduced or their jobs lost due to the crisis,” he said.
"People may wish to use the money they spent on the flights for a different reason because their situation has changed so much.
"The reality is that you can't pay an electricity bill, the rent or the mortgage with an airline voucher,” Deputy Gould added.
The Cork North Central TD went on to say that a refund offer should be made by the airline in the first instance.
"There is nothing stopping customers who are happy to take a voucher from doing so. However, those who need a refund should not be made to feel they are doing something wrong for requesting one,” he said.
"I fully appreciate that the current environment is challenging for airlines but we are talking about the hard-earned money of people who may need to make it to the end of the month in what are very difficult times,” Deputy Gould concluded.