In the wake of complaints from consumers and as a result of media reactions, the National Consumer Protection Authority (ANPC), during the month of June 2022, carried out a supervisory measure at the economic operator Blue Air Aviation SA.
Specifically, between April 30, 2021 and April 30, 2022, the economic operator canceled 11,289 flights, equivalent to 178,405 reservations, for which payments were made in a total amount of 66,585,967.68 lei, by consumers from 20 member countries. In the European Union, in which the airline under examination operates regular flights.
In accordance with the provisions of the conversion to the National Law of the Pan-European Directive, after the order of the President of the ANPC was published in the Official Gazette, which specified the procedure to be followed in this case, a special commission was established at the authority level to determine the necessary penalties. Carefully study the results of the controls and their circulation.
In view of the results of the verifications and the absence of the declared turnover of the economist, which made it impossible to determine a fine as a percentage, the commission decided to impose a fine. A fine of 2 million euros, equal to the lei at the exchange rate of the National Bank of Romania, on July 12, 2022, 9882,200 lei, in accordance with the provisions of Article 154(2) of Law No. No. 363/2007 on combating incorrect practices of merchants in relation to consumers and harmonizing regulations with European legislation on consumer protection, with subsequent amendments and supplements.
With this fine in place, the Monitoring Team and ANPC Chief suggested, by order, Ordered as a supplementary punishment, the remedy provided for in Article 121 paragraph. (1) lit. a) of Law 363/2007, respectively “…termination of the contract and refund of the value of canceled services and related compensation within a maximum period of 10 days” With respect to consumer choice and with respect to all canceled reservations for which the economic operator has not adequately refunded amounts owed, including compensation, following cancellation of flights after 30 April 2022.
At the same time, The measure was instructed not to make available to consumers, on the market, flight offers, for which the economic operator does not have the necessary gifts / means / resources to perform, while respecting exactly the declared conditions and characteristics.
Considering that the aberrations found relate to Romanian consumers and the European Union, the ANPC, through the Directorate General for Monitoring Market Surveillance and European Harmonization, sent an alert to the European Commission and ANPC’s counterpart authorities, from other Member States, to request verification, in Europe the level of similar violations of the legislation , other than those for which a complaint has been lodged with the ANPC, or if measures have already been taken to ensure compliance with EU law against such breaches of Blue Air Aviaton SA.
According to ANPC representatives, 924 cross-border complaints were received, which identified the need to obtain additional information through the CPC network, which operates under Regulation (EU) 2394/2017 and ensures cooperation between the national market surveillance authorities and the oversight of all. Member states, in addition to the European Commission.
The ANPC recommends that consumers be extremely vigilant and avoid purchasing airline tickets from economic operators that have in the past canceled many flights and have not respected consumer rights.
ANPC representatives also state that, with Blue Air’s notice, they have been notified to the Member States, by CPC Network, Wizz Air and Ryan Air, which, during this period, have also seen many flights canceled or delayed, without regard to consumer rights.
The economic operators will continue to remain in the eyes of the ANPC, and the implementation of the required measures, to recover the amounts, as well as to stop improper business practices, will be verified by the commissioners, after the end of 10 days, by law.
The ANPC recommends that consumers report situations similar to those listed above, regardless of which airline they are registered with. ANPC warns consumers that, in the event of a flight cancellation, companies that refund unpaid amounts charge a fee for these services.