Skift Take

The concept isn't radical, although it is controversial: If the government won't allow passengers to fly because of Covid lockdowns, then they should be entitled to refunds. Look for the UK competition authority to spank the two airlines on this one.

Britain’s competition authority said on Wednesday it was investigating whether Ryanair and British Airways had broken consumer law by failing to offer refunds for flights customers could not legally take during the COVID pandemic.

During periods of lockdown across Britain, the airlines refused to give refunds to people that were lawfully unable to fly, with IAG-owned British Airways offering vouchers or rebooking and Ryanair providing the option to rebook.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said the airlines may have breached consumer law and it had opened enforcement cases against them.

CMA Chief Executive 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.”

The CMA said it had written to both airlines and was seeking to resolve it concerns with the companies, which may include refunds, or other redress, for affected customers.

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.

“Ryanair has approached such refund requests on a case by case basis and has paid refunds in justified cases,” it said.

“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.”

(Reporting by Paul Sandle and Sarah Young; Editing by Alistair Smout)

This article was from Reuters and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@industrydive.com.

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Tags: british airways, competition, flights, refunds, ryanair, vouchers

Photo Credit: A British Airways aircraft. The airline and Ryanair are being investigated in the UK for improperly withholding flyer refunds for flights that were cancelled because of the Covid crisis. Isaac Struna / Unsplash