Monday, 29 March 2021
An tOrd Gnó - Order of Business
I ask the Leader to organise a debate on the travel industry, travel agents and the issuing of travel vouchers. As the Leas-Chathaoirleach and Leader will be aware, EU Regulation 261/2004 protects the rights of consumers and travel agents. Travel agents have been without income, or have had negative income, for a year as a result of Covid-19. Our travel agents now operate under what is probably the strictest international travel regime in the world. Despite what some might say, travel has been absolutely stopped with the exception of travel for essential business.
I call on Government and the airlines, Ryanair in particular, to address the issue of the travel voucher scheme and I ask the Leader to facilitate a debate in that regard. Our travel agents require clarity, support and co-operation. I ask that all airlines accept an extension of the five-year rule in respect of travel vouchers. Hundreds of thousands of flights have been cancelled. If these vouchers are not used by a given expiry date, a refund is issued. These originally expired after one year but this was extended to five years. That is not an issue for most people but I have talked to many travel agents and they have told me that Ryanair has told them that, once such a voucher goes out of date, that is it, game over. That is not good enough. I ask the Leader of the House to bring the Minister in so that we can ensure travel agents and the travelling public will be able to use those vouchers beyond the one-year expiry date and that the five-year expiry date will be honoured. I hope we will have such a debate. It is important to give certainty and clarity.