Passengers taking legal action over cancelled flights. | Ultima Hora

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As soon as the courts reopen Airlines and Shipping Companies will face an avalanche of refund claims from travellers for journeys that couldn’t be taken during the State of Emergency.

Several websites are already collecting complaints from passengers who say the airlines owe them money.

As a general rule, Airlines offer customers a gift voucher for tickets that couldn't be used which is valid until the end of 2020, although some companies have extended the expiry date until the end of 2021.

The Airlines argue that they are in a very difficult financial position because all flights have been grounded and they want to defer refunds for flights booked after March 14 until after the State of Emergency has been lifted.

“In principle, companies are obligated to refund the money if they have not been able to fulfil the Service Provision Contract due to an unforeseen or unforeseeable event,” said José Yánez, who's a Lawyer and Consumer Expert.

There’s also the question of what will happen with tickets for flights that are suspended after the State of Emergency has been lifted.

”There are people who think they can fly to New York in August but that could be a problem,” says Yáñez, who doubts that the airlines will give customers their money back.

"I don't know if it will be practical because going to court takes a long time,” he says and warns that Airline companies will already be overburdened by claims and the economic crisis that's been caused by the pandemic, so promises on websites that compensation will be paid for suspended flights should be taken with a pinch of salt.

Prices

Airlines that operate between the Balearic Islands and the Peninsula have increased their prices by nearly 40% during the coronavirus crisis which has brought a raft of complaints from residents who have to fly for reasons of force majeure from Palma to Madrid, Barcelona or Valencia.

The Aviba President, Francesc Mulet acknowledged that there has been an exaggerated increase in prices.

”It must be borne in mind that companies are operating in a very restrictive situation and the coronavirus restrictions mean they cannot market their usual destinations,” said Mulet, “during the State of Emergency, air connectivity is essential, but that does not justify the exaggerated price increases,” said Mulet.

At present, connectivity is minimal with only one flight between Barcelona and Palma via Vueling and two flights between Madrid and Palma, one with Air Europa flight and one with Iberia Express.

The flight restrictions will remain in place as long as the State of Emergency is in force.