Ryanair and British Airways are being investigated by a British watchdog after they failed to offer refunds for cancelled flights during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The watchdog is to decide whether laws were breached or not as the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) stated that the companies may have needed to issue refunds for flights that were cancelled for non-essential reasons.
According to the CMA, Ryanair offered rebookings for flights that operated but only should have been used for essential travel while British Airways offered rebookings or vouchers.
With customers legally being entitled to a cash refund within 14 days, British Airways stated that it offered refunds for all flights that were cancelled. The CMA said that by failing to offer customers their money back, both firms may have breached consumer law and left people unfairly out of pocket.
CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli stated, “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” while adding that “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.”
The CMA has stated that it should not be assumed that either airline has broken the law.
A British Airways spokeswoman said that the company has acted lawfully at all times and has issued over three million refunds. With the travel sector being one of the hardest-hit industries during the pandemic, the spokeswoman added that “It is incredible that the government is seeking to punish further an industry that is on its knees, after prohibiting airlines from meaningful flying for well over a year now.”
The CMA has scrutinised many companies in the travel sector and has written to over 100 firms reminding them of their responsibility to process refunds within 14 days for cancellations.