In the event of cancellation of a flight by the air carriers (irrespective of the cause), the operating air carrier is obliged under Article 5 of the EU charter for passenger rights to offer passengers the choice between the following options:
- Refund (repayment)
- other transportation at the earliest possible time or
- rerouting at a later date at the passenger’s convenience
If a passenger has booked the outward and return flight separately and the outward flight is cancelled, the passenger is only entitled to reimbursement of the cancelled flight, i.e. in this case the outward flight.
However, where outward and return flights are part of the same reservation, passengers should be offered two options in case of cancellation of the outward flight, even if the flights are operated by different air carriers: reimbursement of the full cost of the ticket (i.e. for both flights) or re-routing for the outward flight (Interpretation Guidelines, point 4.2)
With regard to re-routing, as explained above, the “earliest possible date” may be significantly delayed in the light of the Covid 19 outbreak, which may also apply to the availability of concrete information on this “date”, given the high degree of uncertainty currently affecting air transport.
These circumstances may need to be taken into account when applying Article 5 of Regulation (EC) No 261/2004. However, in any event the following shall apply:
Firstly, passengers who choose re-routing instead of reimbursement should be informed of the delays and/or uncertainties involved.
Secondly, if a passenger nevertheless chooses re-routing at the earliest possible time, the air carrier’s obligation to inform the passenger is deemed to have been fulfilled if it informs the passenger of the flight available for re-routing as soon as possible and in good time.
You can find more information about this on the following pages: