Airlines must continue to offer refunds for cancelled flights, the European Commission (EC) has said.
Ireland was one of 12 countries pushing the EC to temporarily suspend the right of a cash refund for cancelled flights and, instead, allow airlines to offer vouchers to customers whose flights were cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The letter argued vouchers would be "acceptable for consumers" and would support struggling airlines.
However, in announcing its package to reboot European tourism in 2020, the European Commission confirmed it would not allow airlines to remove the option of a refund.
Some 12 European countries are already in breach of the law, officials added. Enforcement proceedings have already commenced with regard to these breaches.
In announcing its guidance to resume travel and reboot European tourism, the European Commission said it would support efforts to make vouchers an attractive alternative, but insisted airlines would still have to provide cash refunds if sought.
Under EU rules, travellers have the right to choose between vouchers or cash reimbursement for cancelled transport tickets or package travel.
The EC recommends "that vouchers become a viable and more attractive alternative" in order to ease the financial pressure on airlines.
Voluntary voucher schemes should be guaranteed by governments to protect consumers who do opt for this alternative. They should also provide passengers flexibility, allow them to travel on the same route and under the same conditions as originally booked and should be transferable to another person.
Underlining the rules, EC Executive Vice-President Margarethe Verstergar said, "You need to have the refund; that is your right. Full stop."
She said that voucher schemes should elapse after a year and unclaimed vouchers should, at this point, be traded for cash or additional services.