Collapsing of an airline, the passengers’ rights the carrier's bankructure

Over the past two years, we have witnessed the collapse of as many as 39 airlines, of which three European carriers have failed in recent weeks. The planes of British Thomas Cook, French XL and Slovenian Adria will not ascent into the sky. The latter has just opened insolvency proceedings, which was announced in a press release. This is important from the point of view of passengers - the process of applying for compensation takes place differently in the case of an application for bankruptcy and when it is announced.

Although you can't avoid the consequences of airline bankruptcy, there are several ways to minimize losses:

  • purchase your tickets using a credit card - a complaint should be lodged with the bank, indicating the cancellation of the flight and the charge on the credit card, used to pay for the ticket. The bank where the card was issued will carry out a chargeback procedure on behalf of the client, whose successful completion will allow for a refund

  • using the services of a travel agency when buying your ticket - in this case the flight is part of a travel contract, so it has been covered by the insurance (this is mandatory for packaged tours). This will allow to recover the money for the ticket by contacting the travel agent and policy issuer

  • ravel insurance, that includes airline failures - both banks and insurance companies offer additional policies, including cancellations for various reasons

  • tracking information about the selected airline

  • preparing an alternative travel plan

However, what happens when the above methods fail? Then the first step should be to file a complaint to the failing air carrier. - The complaint should indicate the flight number, date and route of the flight. The airline is required to respond to a complaint, which results from Regulation EC 261/2004 of the European Parliament and Council dated February 11, 2004. A claim should be included by the airline on its list of claims. - says Elżbieta Tyszka, the main lawyer at GIVT - a firm dealing with obtaining compensation for delayed or cancelled air connections. - If the assets of the failing carrier allow these claims to be satisfied, then the passenger's situation is more comfortable because he can expect compensation and reimbursement of costs incurred in connection with the cancelled flight.

The passenger is in a worse position when the court announces the bankruptcy of the airline, because it is very difficult to recover money in such a situation. This is due to the fact that the airline is unable to pay its liabilities on an ongoing basis. – In the Polish legal order, the deadline for filing claims is set out in the court's decision of declared bankruptcy. Its beginning is counted from the date of publication of the order in the Court and Commercial Gazette (Monitor Sądowy i Gospodarczy).

The period cannot be shorter than one month and longer than three months. To keep to it, all you have to do is submit a claim by registered mail. The deadline for filing claims is the same for all creditors, but the order in which their claims are met depends on the priority set. In this case, the consumer is in the second out of 4 places - only when the claims from the first category are satisfied can the next ones be repaid – adds Elżbieta Tyszka from GIVT.

There is an exception to this rule: the flight was served by another airline that cooperated with the carrier that suspended its operation. In this case, you can contact the partner airline to obtain the compensation for passengers.

- In other countries, this procedure may differ slightly, however, the general rule should be to protect debtors in the event of creditor's insolvency and in many countries work is underway to create a fund from which money will be paid to cover passengers' claims in the event of airline bankruptcy, as is in the event of bankruptcy of a travel agency – says Elżbieta Tyszka.

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