EU air passenger rights were not protected during pandemic, auditors say

BRUSSELS, June 29 (Reuters) - European airline passenger rights, including carriers’ legal obligation to pay refunds for cancelled flights, have not been safeguarded during the COVID-19 pandemic, an EU report released on Wednesday said.

The European Court of Auditors (ECA) found that, in virtually all cases, airlines sidestepped rules requiring a cash refund for cancelled flights and forced customers to accept vouchers for future journeys.

The ECA, which looks after the interests of taxpayers in the 27-member European Union but does not have legal powers, said travel restrictions led to 7,000 air routes being closed in the European airport network after the pandemic began last year.

Reporting by Marine Strauss. Editing by Jane Merriman