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'Ghost flight' practice must be challenged – Darren O’Rourke TD

16 February, 2021 - by Darren O Rourke TD

Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Transport, Darren O’Rourke TD, today called for better protections to be put in place for consumers who deferred flights and holidays from 2020 until 2021, but still cannot travel due to Covid-19 public health restrictions.

The Meath East TD said:

“March will mark 12 months since the introduction of international travel restrictions here due to Covid-19.

“Since then, most people took the decision to postpone their holidays until 2021, with the hope that the pandemic would have subsided and they would get travelling abroad.

“Unfortunately, this is not yet the case. Given this, and that fact that it is still too early to predict when people may get to travel again, the Government must move to ensure these consumers are protected.

“People should not be financially punished for taking the responsible decision to postpone their travel and heed public health advice all year.

“We agree with the call from the Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) that better protections are now needed to ensure consumers do not lose more money this year through no fault of their own.

“Last year some airlines operated 'ghost flights' with little or no passengers, which meant ticket holders lost their refund protection as the flight left, but they were not on it.

“The ITAA said at one stage people were losing €800,000 a day on flights and holidays they could not go on due to the policy on non-essential travel.

“This cannot be allowed happen again. Ghost flights cannot be used as a loophole for refunding passengers.

“If airlines refuse to offer refunds or free rescheduling during the ongoing travel restrictions, the Government must step in to ensure consumers are protected.” 

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