The Russian military intervention in Ukraine and the sanctions applied against and against Russia are seriously disrupting air traffic in Europe. An overview of these consequences and your rights.
Just beginning to recover from a two-year pandemic, the aviation industry was once again hit hard by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. On February 27, the European Union (EU) and other countries announced that they would close their airspace to all civil aircraft operated by Russian carriers or registered in Russia. In response, Russia closed its own airspace to carriers from 36 countries, including all European Union countries. For security reasons, Moldova also decided to close its airspace until the end of April.
The consequences of these decisions are felt not only by travelers who wanted to go to Russia (or back), but also by those who were heading to Asia. Indeed, companies will now have to bypass the vast Russian airspace they used to fly between Europe and Asia. For some flights, this will mean an increase in travel time, and routes are canceled altogether. For example, for Scandinavian companies flying over Siberia, new flight plans to bypass Russia from the south may not be cost-effective.
My flight was cancelled, can I get a refund?
Yes. As during the Covid-19 pandemic, flight cancellations due to the war in Ukraine (whether flights directly affected, for example, from Russia, Ukraine or Moldova or to Asia or indirectly affected by them) are considered to be caused by “extraordinary circumstances”. “Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 of 11 February 2004 requires airlines to reimburse passengers within 7 days. Please note that the rules provide that the traveler must have a choice between a refund or a credit note : companies can’t force the latter on you (although they did during the pandemic…).
Due to this extraordinary circumstance, the cancellation of the flight entails only the reimbursement of the latter; additional compensation provided by law in the event of cancellation does not apply in this case.
Mark. Even if the flight was booked on a third-party site, the company is obliged to reimburse you for the costs. In practice, the air carrier may have difficulty identifying you. However, at the time of booking confirmation, you were given recommendations that you can send to the company.
I have a trip planned in the next few months to Russia or Ukraine. Can I cancel it?
If you booked your flight alone, it’s best to wait for the airline to cancel it (unless your ticket is 100% refundable, in which case you can do it yourself). Indeed, if you cancel it before it is removed, you will not receive a refund. We remind you that the carrier is only obliged to reimburse you if the flight did not take place.
In the case of booking a package trip (flight + hotel, hotel + travel services, etc.), the law provides that the traveler can cancel the reservation free of charge in case of exceptional circumstances that may affect the course of his trip. Take stock with your tour operator to learn about possible solutions (postponement of stay, change of destination, credit note, etc.) or request a travel refund.
I have planned a trip to a country close to Ukraine, can I cancel it?
If you decide to travel to Poland, Romania or the Baltic States and wish to cancel your trip, the fees stipulated in your contract will apply. Indeed, these countries are not at war. However, it is possible that your tour operator may offer you the benefit of a commercial agreement (postponement of stay, change of destination, etc.): do not hesitate to contact them for possible solutions.
In May 2021, the European Council demanded “All carriers registered in the EU should avoid flying over Belarus” due to the political situation in the country. Therefore, most of the connections with Minsk were canceled at that time. With the outbreak of war, the country closed part of its airspace. Therefore, tickets canceled for this reason may be refunded. If you’ve booked a flight that doesn’t exist (it’s still possible to get to Minsk with a transfer outside of Europe), approach the relevant airline.
For non-European flights
If your flight is not considered a European flight, you cannot benefit from EU rules. You should review your contract with the airline to determine your rights and obligations. Feel free to contact your local UFC-Que Choisir association.