February 7, 2012- In the span of just one week, two European airlines closed their doors leaving many passengers stranded and with no recourse. The European Commission has for the past two years discussed legislation to give passengers protection against an airline shutting down.
On January 28, Spanair suspended its flights and on February 3 Malev, a Hungarian airline, did the same thing. When this happens, the majority of passengers are left without any recourse to recover the unused portion of their ticket or to be repatriated if they happen to be abroad.
Passengers that are part of a travel package are completely protected, while those that purchased just a ticket for a seat are not. This is an illogical discrepancy considering that both passengers must pay in advance and many times use the same flights.
In the past decade, airline closings have affected more than 2 million passengers in Europe. The overwhelming majority were not protected. The average loss by those passengers was close to $1,100.
In 2009, the European Commission started investigating and studying options in policy to address such a situation. As of yet, no decision has been made by the commission and last week many other passengers faced no recourse when the two airlines shuttered their doors.