As things stand in law, air passenger rights are protected by Regulation (EC) No. 261/2004, which covers the rights of passenger in instances of cancellations. However, if a flight goes ahead and a customer either cancels or does not use their ticket, they are not entitled to a refund under EU law.
Evidently the existing consumer protections and legal obligations on airlines and the broader travel sector did not envisage the current circumstances of mass cancellations and stringent travel restrictions. That has, not surprisingly, put the entire system under immense pressure and it is causing real difficulties for people and businesses. I understand that the main Irish airlines have been offering the option to rebook in circumstances where a flight occurs but people are not able to present because of Government advice. That said, I am mindful that the options put forward by airlines may not be fair or workable for customers in all instances.
The Government is continuing its deliberations on the resumption of international travel in light of the ongoing health crisis and the issue of passenger rights is part of those deliberations.