If you are an informed traveller, you probably heard about the bankruptcy of Niki, the airline founded by Niki Lauda the Formula 1 driver.
“Austrian airline Niki has filed for bankruptcy protection after German carrier Lufthansa withdrew its takeover bid for the former Air Berlin subsidiary. Now passengers are stranded across Europe.”
I was one of those passengers. Unfortunately I only found out the night before my flight from Zurich to Las Palmas (Gran Canaria) – when I was trying to do the online checkin – that my flight did not exist!
Here’s what I did to try to get my money back from a flight that I have paid but never happened:
- ask a chargeback of your flight to your Credit Card company (this means simply send an email to your Credit Card company and ask them to reimburse you for the amount of your Niki flight given the airline did not delivered on their contract)
- go to the airline’s website and register a claim
- send a request to the Agentur für Passagier-und Fahrgastrechte (apf) – this entity is the National Enforcement Body (“NEB”) that is responsible for monitoring and enforcing the application of the Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 by airlines
I’ve also contacted the European Union “Direct Contact Centre” that has provided very good information that I’ll share below. One importance Regulation to know about is 261/2004 that states:
The Flight Compensation Regulation 261/2004 is a regulation in EU law establishing common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding, flight cancellations, or long delays of flights. It requires compensation of €250 to €600 depending on the flight distance for delays over 4 hours, cancellations, or being denied boarding from overbooking. Shorter delays mean a percentage of the full compensation. Airlines must provide refreshments and accommodation where appropriate. The Court of Justice of the European Union has interpreted passenger rights strictly, so that there are virtually no exceptions for airlines to evade their obligations for breach of contract. (source)
Feedback from the European Union Direct Contact Centre:
Airline insolvency, or the insolvency of any business, is an area that is mainly administered under national legislation rather than being regulated at an EU level.
Please note that that at the national level, the National Enforcement Body (“NEB”) is responsible for monitoring and enforcing the application of the Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 by airlines. You may therefore wish to contact a competent NEB. You will find their contact details on the page below:
As Air Niki is located in Austria the competent NEB is in Austria:
Agentur für Passagier-und Fahrgastrechte (apf)
Linke Wienzeile 4/1/6
AT -1060 Wien
Tel: +43 1 5050 707 700
Fax: +43 1 5050707 180
Passengers who booked via tour operators or travel agencies are protected under the Package Travel Directive and should get in touch with their partners of their travel contract (https://europa.eu/youreurope/
For passengers who booked their flight directly with NIKI or have a “flight only” ticket, Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 applies. Therefore, under the Regulation, in case of possible operational disruption such as flight cancellations by the operating air carrier, air passengers have a right to care (hotel accommodation) and assistance (reimbursement or re-routing) and in some cases to financial compensation.
You will find practical information on these rights here: http://europa.eu/youreurope/
Please note also, that in some Member States purchases made by a credit card (and some debit cards) allow consumers to claim a refund from the card provider in the event of the service provider’s insolvency.
Moreover, passengers who bought ticket themselves will be able to register as creditors at the insolvency proceedings as soon as the proceedings have opened this registration. Other EU legislation, specifically Regulation (EU) 2015/848 which governs cross-border insolvency proceedings, would entitle passengers resident in another Member State to the insolvent airline to lodge claims for refunds or compensation in foreign insolvency proceedings.
If you are a resident of an EU country, Norway or Iceland, and the airline is based in another EU country, Norway or Iceland, the European Consumer Centres Network (ECC) in your country of residence can assist you (https://ec.europa.eu/info/
More updates will follow once I hear back from any of the entities above.
Fly safe and stay informed.