Greece Revises Law on Vouchers for Canceled Travel Due to Covid-19

Noble Horvath

The Greek government has revised regulations to the law on refund claims regarding bookings of airlines, ferries, yachts, hotels and travel packages that were canceled due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. More specifically, amendments were made to Greek law ΠΝΠ13.04.2020/2020 which contains measures to address the continuing […]




Photo source: WTTC

The Greek government has revised regulations to the law on refund claims regarding bookings of airlines, ferries, yachts, hotels and travel packages that were canceled due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

More specifically, amendments were made to Greek law ΠΝΠ13.04.2020/2020 which contains measures to address the continuing consequences caused by Covid-19. These amendments have been included in the new law v.4722/15.09.2020 (Article 81 replaces Article 61 of the previous law regarding cancelled airline tickets, Article 82 replaces Article 65 of the previous law regarding cancellations to sea travel and Article 83 replaces Article 70 of the previous law regarding cancelled bookings of hotels and other travel services), which was published in the Government Gazette on September 15.

Among other things, the law includes all businesses and travelers need to know about refund claims and vouchers issued for canceled bookings over the February 25 – August 31 period. It is noted that claims for airline ticket refunds after September 1, 2020, will be covered in accordance to EU regulation 261/2004 as was the case prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Moreover, according to the revised regulations, vouchers can be transferred to a third person at no additional cost.

Following are the main amendments in the new law (v.4722/15.09.2020):

Airline tickets – Article 81

  • Claims of passengers for airline ticket refunds due to flight cancellations between the 25 February 2020 – 31 August 2020 period, in accordance to EU or national law, will be covered with a voucher equal to the price of the canceled flight ticket.

 

– The voucher is issued by the air carrier and expires after 18 months from its issuance.
– During the 18 months, the holder of the voucher may at any time use it for any destination within the air carrier’s network.
– Within the same 18-month time period, the voucher may also be transferred to a third party free of charge, as long as the issuer of the voucher has been notified at least 10 days prior to the trip, so that a new one can be issued to the third party who will make use of it.
– Until the expiration of the voucher, the owed ticket cost is not considered overdue and receivable. The debt becomes overdue and receivable, if 18 months have passed since the issuance of the voucher and it has not been used.

  • The revisions in the law are also applied to bookings made between the parties, as applicable in both Greek and foreign law, provided that the relevant rights are covered by EU legislation.
  • The revisions of the law do not include claims of passengers for airline ticket refunds resulting from flight cancellations from 1 September 2020 onwards, as well as claims for refunds of airline tickets to passengers who did not issue a voucher.
    Claims for airline ticket refunds due to flight cancellations from 1 September 2020 onwards will be catered to in accordance to Articles 5, 7 and 8 of Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 February 2004.

 

Sea travel (ferries, yachts, boats) – Article 82

  • Reimbursement claims for passengers holding international/domestic ferry tickets, who from 25 February 2020 to 31 August 2020 were unable to travel due to travel restrictions or were unwilling to travel due to uncertainty caused by the pandemic or due to cancellation of scheduled ferry itineraries, in accordance to EU or national law, will be catered to with a voucher equal to the price of the canceled ticket.

 

– The voucher is issued by the shipowner, shipping company or ticket agency and expires 18 months from the date of voyage.
– During the 18-month period, the holder of the voucher may at any time make use of it for any destination in the carrier’s network.
– Within the same 18-month time period, the voucher may be transferred to a third party at no additional charge, as long as the issuer of the voucher has been notified at least 10 days prior to the trip, so that a new one can be issued to the third party who will make use of it.
– Until the expiration of the voucher, the owed ticket cost is not considered overdue and receivable. The debt becomes overdue and receivable, if 18 months have passed since the issuance of the voucher and it has not been used.

  • The aforementioned rules for refund claims for private yacht (commercial pleasure boats) charter bookings remain until 31 October 2020.
  • The provisions in the law are applied to the contracts which have been agreed between the parties, as applicable in both Greek and foreign law, provided that the relevant rights are covered by EU legislation.
  • The provisions of the law do not include claims of passengers for cancellations of scheduled ferry routes or boat tours and / or a ban on the movement of passengers on domestic/international ferry routes from 1 September 2020 onwards.

 

Bookings of hotels and other travel services – Article 83

Amendments were also made to the Greek law regarding claims against contracts (bookings) agreed between tourism enterprises and customers, covering the 25 February 2020 to 31 August 2020 period and that concern the provision of tourist services as individual bookings or bookings in the form of organized travel packages, which have been agreed between tourism companies and customers. The claims against the contracts can be made from either side.

It is noted that “customers”, who reside either in or outside Greece, are considered (a) consumers; (b) natural persons, including representatives of small business, self-employed or self-employed persons, who make reservations for business-related travel; (c) natural or legal persons who, acting for purposes relating to their commercial, business, craft or professional activity, enter into contracts with tourism businesses for the arrangement of business trips, including conferences or seminars; and (d) natural or legal persons, including schools, educational institutions and non-profit associations, which form contracts with tourism businesses to arrange occasional and non-profit travel to a limited group of travelers and are not aimed at serving the general public.

  • If a tourism enterprise is obliged to return an advance or full payment or a payment that has been made in any other form for the execution of the booking, it has the right to issue a voucher, instead of a refund, equal to the price of the amount paid and valid for 18 months from the date of issue.
  • The tourism enterprise is obliged to notify the customer in writing about the voucher within 30 days from the date the booking was cancelled. If the tourism enterprise does not inform the customer in writing about the offer of the voucher within the 30-day deadline, it is obliged to return the full amount owed to the customer.
  • The voucher must correspond to, at least, the total amount to be repaid. The tourism enterprise is obliged to offer the customer the opportunity to use the voucher for a tourism service similar to or equivalent to the one concerned in the cancelled booking.
  • Vouchers issued in accordance with the amendments of the law may be transferred to a third party at no additional cost. If the vouchers are issued by travel package organizers, the possibility of transferring the voucher to a third party without cost is possible under the condition that the providers (suppliers) of the individual services included in the organized trip agree with the transfer without additional charge.
  • If the total value of the tourism service chosen by the customer is less than the value of the voucher, the customer may choose either to receive a new voucher for the amount corresponding to the difference in value, with a duration to be agreed between the two parties, or to be reimbursed for the amount corresponding to the difference in value, no later than the expiry date of the original voucher. If the total value of the tourism service that the customer will choose exceeds the value of the voucher, the difference is paid by the customer to the tourism enterprise.
  • If for any reason, when the voucher expires, no new booking has been made for the provision of any tourism service between the tourism enterprise and the customer, the tourism enterprise is obliged to immediately pay the refundable amount of money to the customer.
  • The provisions in the law are applied to the bookings that have been agreed between the parties, as applicable in both Greek and foreign law, provided that the relevant rights are covered by EU legislation.

 


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