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TUI Belgium cancels summer flights for 100,000 passengers
About 100,000 TUI Belgium customers have had their summer holiday plans thrown into doubt, after the tour operator cancelled hundreds of flights.
The firm announced it had revised its summer schedule because too many flights were under-capacity and no longer profitable.
"Demand is much lower and we cannot fly planes that are nearly empty," a TUI Belgium spokeswoman said. "We have therefore been forced to cancel several flights."
The company said it had offered the affected passengers a rebooking on to another flight, three days either side of the original reservation, for the same price and without additional charges.
However, large numbers of customers have reported that they are unable to make contact with TUI Belgium, by phone or email, to rearrange their travel plans.
"We are asking for a little patience," the spokeswoman added. "All of our travel agencies will have reopened by next week - that is another possibility for customers, alongside emails and phone calls."
According to consumer protection watchdog Test-Achats, passengers who booked a package holiday combining flight and accommodation will be offered a voucher valid for at least a year, to be redeemed against a future holiday booking. The voucher can be traded in for a full refund only after a year.
If your reservation with TUI Belgium was for a flight only, without accommodation, Test-Achats says you are not obliged to accept the voucher and can demand a refund without delay.
While flight cancellations until 15 June are covered by "force majeure" due to the coronavirus travel restrictions, Test-Achats argues that cancellations after the borders have reopened could give passengers the right to claim "denied boarding" compensation under EU flight rules, up to €600, depending on the distance of the flight.
Test-Achats added: "The communication from the tour operator has been seriously unclear, and has been poorly understood by consumers. We therefore ask TUI to modify its communication as soon as possible to clarify things."