In Brief

Ryanair, Virgin Atlantic and Tui ‘breaching flight refund promises’

New probe finds that the three airlines are failing to keep promise to aviation watchdog to process passenger claims more quickly

Three major airlines are breaching pledges to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to refund passengers for flights cancelled as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Which? investigation. 

In a report in July, the industry regulator named and shamed Ryanair, Virgin Atlantic and Tui for “not processing refund requests sufficiently quickly” and “having a sizeable backlog of refund requests”. 

But after “brazenly breaking the law by forcing passengers to wait up to four months for their money back”, the three carriers have failed to keep their promises to speed up the return of “hundreds of thousands of pounds in refunds”, says the Daily Mail

CAA ‘needs more powers’

The airlines promised the CAA that refunds would be issued within agreed timeframes, but Which? found that claims are still taking months to process.

The consumer group’s travel editor, Rory Boland, is now calling on the government to give the industry watchdog “the tools it needs to hold airlines to account, or risk consumer trust in the travel industry being damaged beyond repair”. 

“Time after time, Which? has exposed airlines breaking the law on refunds for cancelled flights due to the pandemic and treating their passengers unfairly, and we’re concerned that they now feel empowered to do as they please without fear of punishment,” Boland said.

Responding to the Which? probe findings, CAA spokesperson Andrew McConnell said: “We will review any supplementary evidence that Which? wish to provide to us beyond the 12,000 cases previously submitted during our review of airline refund policies and performance during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“While our initial review has concluded, we have been clear that we will continue to monitor performance closely and should any airline fall short of the commitments they have made to us, we will take further action as required.”

What have the airlines said?

Ryanair told the BBC that it had issued £670m in refunds and had cleared more than 90% of its claims backlog. Meanwhile, Virgin said it was “very sorry” that a “small number” of customers had to wait more than 120 days for a refund.

And “Tui said it now issued refunds automatically and normally processed cash refunds within two weeks” , the broadcaster reports.

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