UK regulator the Competition and Markets Authority is investigating both Ryanair and British Airways after customers were refused refunds during the COVID-19 pandemic. Tony McDonough reports
Ryanair is being investigated by the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) over its refusal to offer refunds to customers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the CMA, some people who were unable to fly during lockdown were left “unfairly out of pocket” after both Ryanair, one of Liverpool Airport’s biggest airlines, and British Airways (BA), had refused them refunds.
Opening enforcement cases against both carriers, the CMA says it is concerned that, by failing to offer people their money back, both firms may have breached consumer law. It is now seeking to resolve these concerns with the companies, which may include seeking refunds, or other redress, for affected customers.
During lockdowns when people were unable to fly, Ryanair offered customers the opportunity to rebook while BA offered people vouchers or the chance to rebook their flights.
Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the CMA, 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.”
Along with easyJet, Ryanair has carried millions of people to and from Liverpool Airport over more than two decades. Over the last six months alone the Dublin-based carrier has announced five new routes out of Liverpool. In response to the CMA it said it had looked at refund requests “on a case-by-case basis” and had paid up in some cases.
It added: “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.”
BA took a more combative line with the regulator. In a statement it said: “It is incredible that the Government is seeking to punish further an industry that is on its knees. Any action taken against our industry will only serve to destabilise it, with potential consequences for jobs, business, connectivity and the UK economy.”