Ryanair under investigation over denial of refunds for flights customers couldn't take
By failing to offer customers their money back, Ryanair and British Airways may have breached consumer law and left people unfairly out of pocket.
The UK's competition watchdog has announced it is investigating whether British Airways and Ryanair have broken consumer law by failing to offer refunds for flights customers could not legally take.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has opened enforcement cases into both airlines and has written to them detailing its concerns.
The move comes after the CMA opened an investigation into the airline sector in December 2020 after reports consumers were being denied refunds for flights they could not legally take due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
A statement on the UK Government's website reads: "During periods of lockdown across the UK, British Airways and Ryanair refused to give refunds to people that were lawfully unable to fly, with British Airways offering vouchers or rebooking and Ryanair providing the option to rebook."
The statement noted that it should not be assumed at this stage that any of the airlines have breached the law and that, ultimately, only a court can decide whether a breach has occurred.
The statement also noted that Ryanair stated it repaid a small number of people having reviewed the specifics of their cases.
The CMA's concern is that both airlines may have breached consumer law by failing to offer customers their money back and left people unfairly out of pocket.
It stated it is now seeking to resolve these concerns with the airlines, which may include seeking refunds or other redresses for affected customers.
Chief Executive of the CMA Andrea Coscelli said: "While we understand that airlines have had a tough time during the pandemic, people should not be left unfairly out of pocket for following the law.
"Customers booked these flights in good faith and were legally unable to take them due to circumstances entirely outside of their control. We believe these people should have been offered their money back."
In a statement to JOE, Ryanair said it "welcomed" the CMA’s update on its review of airline policies on refund requests made by UK consumers whose flights operated during periods of lockdown.
The airline said: "Ryanair has approached such refund requests on a case by case basis and has paid refunds in justified cases.
"Since June 2020, all our customers have also had the ability to rebook their flights without paying a change fee and millions of our UK customers have availed of this option.”