Refund for canceled flight should be received within a week ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

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AirBaltic suspended all flights from March 17. Source: airBaltic

The Consumer Protection Board has said money for canceled flights should be repaid within seven days although many companies often take several months to pay up.

A customer who lives in Brussels has purchased three different tickets from Latvian airline AirBaltic this month to go and see his children during the school holiday. Each time, the flight schedule was changed and if the times did not fit, the customer asked for a refund. He is still waiting for the ticket money, ETV's current affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" (AK) reported on Thursday.

Chief-executive of AirBaltic Martin Gauss told AK the changes in the flight schedule are due to the pandemic and are constantly changing. "Every week the European Union member states change the restrictions under which we can fly," Gauss said.

Gauss said the refunds depend on where the ticket has been brought from. "It depends on how has the ticket been paid for, through a travel agency or directly from our website. The refund may arrive on the same day or it can take weeks," Gauss said.

Since spring, AirBaltic has paid €80 million in refunds, either returning the money or as vouchers.

The Consumer Protection and Technical Surveillance Board (TTJA) receives complaints regarding airline companies all the time and since March complaints have dramatically increased. The agency does not want to single out any particular company specifically because everyone has violated the rules.

"The customers have a right to a refund and it should be received in seven days," the head of TTJA's customer environment department Jaana Tael said.

"Paying refunds vary a lot in different airline companies. There are those who manage to send the refund in a couple of days, but there are those, who take months to do it. And it's especially difficult in the case of tickets that have been bought from a mediation platform. In that case, it can take even longer," Tael warns.

Tael said the time has passed when airlines can hide behind unforeseen circumstances when refusing to return money because the coronavirus can already be taken into account.

However, ordinary travel insurance still does not cover flights missed due to the coronavirus. Tael said that no insurance is required in this case, because the airline is obliged to refund the ticket to the passenger anyway.

However, before going on a trip, it is worth getting familiar with the destination to see if a negative corona test is required or where a long quarantine period awaits. These requirements are constantly changing.

Sales of seasonal flights are about to start

Currently, it is possible to fly to nine destinations from Tallinn Airport and the list of the destinations is constantly changing. There were 27,500 passengers in January, which is 13 percent of the last year's volume.

"Today, family and business-related flights are the most common. There is not a lot of tourism as such," the business director of Tallinn Airport, Eero Pärgmäe admitted.

Tallinn Airport hopes that from March, the number of destinations will double.

"Today, several carriers have stopped their flights temporarily - these are mainly cheap flight companies - Wizzair, Ryanair - and they should all start at the end of March. And of course, in the first stage, there are the holiday destinations that clients and companies see as well as the first chance to restore the flights," Pärgmäe said.

"Currently in February we have six international carriers operating in Tallinn, we are hoping that in summer, there will be 12 of them. No airline serving Tallinn Airport has not gone bankrupt, even Norwegian airline is coming back to the market."

Tallinn Airport has long-term contracts, which means that it would be possible to restart flights tomorrow, but the questions mainly concern state borders as some of them are still closed.

"If in the past flight plans were made six months in advance, then now, flight plans are made a month or two in advance of the current virus situation," Pärgmäe said.

Tickets for summer flights should go on sale in a few weeks.

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Editor: Roberta Vaino

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