Airline passengers could have to make do with vouchers or credit notes instead of refunds for cancelled trips if new proposals from the Transport Minister are approved.
Shane Ross, Minister for Tourism, Transport and Sport, is exploring options which will help travel agents and tour operators mitigate against potential losses in "these exceptional times".
Among the options under consideration by the department is "the use of vouchers or some form of credit note for customer refunds in a way that does not materially erode consumer rights".
While such a move might be welcomed by travel operators, it is unlikely to be popular with consumers, who could see it as a financial hit if they are only offered a voucher or credit note instead of a full refund.
Under EU law, passengers whose flights are cancelled currently must be offered the choice of a refund, a rerouting at the earliest opportunity, or rerouting at a later date.
"The challenge is in finding a fair and commensurate response to what is a unique set of circumstances," a Department spokesman said.
The Minister has instructed his department to "finalise proposals that will help to alleviate the financial pressures that are now impacting on the travel sector in Ireland, affecting Irish licenced travel agents and tour operators".
"In these exceptional times, the Minister is focused on getting help to the travel and tourism sector to protect jobs and good businesses.
"This is an urgent matter that requires a speedy response, and the Minister will work closely with his Cabinet colleagues to find workable solutions as quickly as possible," the spokesman added.
Mr Ross and Heather Humphreys, the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, have already written to the European Commission seeking clarification regarding "the unprecedented level of cancellations and the challenge for those companies in securing cash refunds from suppliers to pass onto their customers".
Some EU member states have already taken their own steps, but Mr Ross’’ department is keen to secure "a coordinated approach" across all member states.