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Aigle Azur, a French air carrier, ceased its operations on September 6, 2019.
Weclaim has compiled a comprehensive legal bulletin for Aigle Azur passengers affected by its collapse.
According to Le Monde, around 19.000 passengers who have travelled with Aigle Azur had to make their own arrangements to return home. However, to date, there are still 13.000 passengers who will need to make their own arrangements to return home. Around 11.000 of those passengers are stuck in Algeria. All passengers should contact their travel insurer or travel agent for assistance.
Due to the suspension of Aigle Azur services, many airlines are offering repatriation rescue fares. We have compiled a comprehensive bulletin regarding repatriation options available to passengers. Check details about repatriation rescue fares and routes available here.
Passengers who bought their tickets through travel agencies should contact those agencies. If you booked a package holiday with a travel agency, you have specific rights (see below).
If your flight has been cancelled by Aigle Azur, you are entitled to a full refund.
Option 1: Going after Aigle Azur
In order to obtain a full refund for unused tickets, you will need to contact Aigle Azur directly. Since Aigle Azur filed for bankruptcy, it’s very likely that the airline will not respond to your claim or won’t be able to meet its refund legal obligations.
Option 2: Claiming a refund against the credit card company
If you booked directly with Aigle Azur via either a credit, charge or debit card we also recommend that you make a claim against their card provider.
UK specific: If you paid directly to the airline by credit card you might be protected by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974. Check with your card issuer for further advice.
Option 3: Going after your travel insurer
Aigle Azur passengers may also be able to make a claim against their travel insurer.
Option 4: Going after the Travel Agent, if applicable
If you booked your ticket through an airline ticket agent you should claim a full refund immediately from the online booking flight travel agent.
UK specific: ATOL Protection
ATOL (which stands for Air Travel Organiser’s Licence) is a UK financial protection scheme. ATOL protects most air package holidays sold by travel businesses that are based in the UK. The scheme also applies to some flight bookings, usually those where you book flights (including UK domestic flights) but do not receive your tickets immediately.
Are Aigle Azur passengers, affected by the collapse of Aigle Azur, protected by ATOL?
Aigle Azur is not covered by the UK Civil Aviation Authority's ATOL Protection scheme which only covers passengers booked on a package holiday. If you booked a package holiday, you are therefore covered by ATOL. If you bought flights only, you are not. Here is why:
Airlines are not included within the ATOL Scheme, so if you booked direct with Aigle Azur and your flight has been cancelled, you will not be covered. Also, If you purchased an airline ticket from Aigle Azur and you did not receive a valid ticket in exchange for payment, ATOL does not cover this flight sale either. If you paid directly to the airline by credit card you might be protected by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974. You should check with your card issuer for further advice. You may have similar cover if you paid by Visa debit card. Check with your bank.
If you booked a package holiday, ATOL stops you losing money or becoming stranded abroad if the travel business you booked with collapses: If the business collapses while you are on holiday, the scheme will make sure you can finish your holiday and return home. If the business collapses before you travel, the scheme will provide a refund or replacement holiday.
UK specific: Scheduled Airline Failure Insurance (SAFI)
Some airline ticket agents offer customers either a specific Scheduled Airline Failure Insurance (SAFI) policy or include similar protection within a broader travel insurance product. The type of protection provided depends on the type of policy taken out. A policy may simply cover the cost of the original tickets purchased or any unused portion, or the additional cost of purchasing new flights, such as new tickets for travel back to the UK. Check out the airline ticket agents insurance policy for more details.
European law requires travel businesses to financially protect their package holidays in the countries in which they are established. Businesses based in the UK provide their protection under the ATOL scheme (See above ATOL Protection) while those based in other European Member States provide their own financial protection schemes. Pursuant to Directive EU 2015/2302 of the european parliament and of the council of 25 November 2015, those of you on package holidays should be looked after by their tour operator. The Directive EU 2015/2302 provides that the tour operator is legally obliged to provide the services and therefore get you to your final destination.
If a significant proportion of your vacation plans cannot be provided, due to Aigle Azur cease of operations, the tour operator has to offer, at no extra cost, suitable alternative arrangement. If the proposed alternative arrangements result in a package of lower quality you are entitled to a price reduction.
If the tour operator does not remedy the travel disruption within a reasonable period set by you, you may do so yourself and request reimbursement of the necessary expenses.
If you end up sustaining any damage as a result of any disruption you are entitled to cash compensation from the tour operator. Compensation has to be paid without undue delay.
Note that your right to compensation or price reduction under the Directive EU 2015/2302 does not affect your rights under Regulation EU 261/2004. You are entitled to present claims under this Directive and under the EU 261/2004 even though compensation claims are highly hypothetical due to Aigle Azur bankruptcy proceedings.
Note that compensation or price reduction granted under Directive EU 2015/2302 and the compensation granted under Regulation EU 261/2004 shall be deducted from each other in order to avoid overcompensation. Be aware of the deadlines: the limitation period for introducing claims under Directive EU 2015/2302 depends on the country having jurisdiction to hear your case but it will never be less than two years.
We consider that it is very unlikely that Aigle Azur passengers may get cash compensation based on EU 261 Regulation due to the bankruptcy proceedings.
We also consider that it is very unlikely that passengers may actually get their EU 261 compensation paid by Aigle Azur for claims made prior to September 6, 2019 due to the bankruptcy proceedings.
Should you have any further questions, do not hesitate to reach out to Weclaim.
By Frédéric PELOUZE (Weclaim Director & Founder) and Cristian BORUZI (Head of Legal)
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