Friday, 6 September 2019

Questions (741)

Robert Troy

Question:

741. Deputy Robert Troy asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation her views on correspondence (details supplied); the statutory and consumer rights available to customers that seek to reclaim costs after cancelling flights within a 24 or 48 hour period; if there is a cooling-off period available to consumers that purchase airline tickets; and the proposals at EU level to cover this area. [36313/19]

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Written answers (Question to Business)

The right to cancel certain specified online, other distance and off-premises contracts within a fourteen-day period afforded by Directive 2011/83/EU on Consumer Rights does not apply to contracts for air and other passenger transport services. This right did not apply similarly to passenger transport contracts under Directive 97/7/EC on distance contracts which first gave consumers a right to cancel certain online and other distance contracts. Two main reasons are commonly put forward for the exclusion of these contracts from the right of cancellation. First, the principal rationale for the right to cancel online contracts, namely that the consumer is unable to see the goods or ascertain the nature of the service prior to the conclusion of the contract, does not essentially apply to contracts for air travel given the standard and well understood nature of the service provided under such contracts. Secondly, the view has been taken that contracts which provide for the performance of a service on a specified date involve the setting aside of capacity that businesses might find difficult to resell if consumers had the right to cancel such contracts. I sympathise with the position of the consumer cited in the details supplied by the Deputy and with the argument that a right of cancellation within a 24-hour or 48-hour period would be fairer to consumers in such cases. As the Consumer Rights Directive is a maximum harmonisation measure, it is not open to me however to provide in national law for the extension of the right of cancellation to contracts excluded from that right under the Directive. The amendments to the Directive recently agreed by the European Council and the European Parliament moreover did not include an extension of the right of cancellation to online air and other passenger transport contracts.