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Airlines escape refund probe

by LLB Reporter
7th Oct 21 10:48 am

The Competition and Markets Authority has ruled that British Airways and Ryanair can refuse to offer customers refunds of tickets cancelled due to the pandemic.

They can instead offer travellers the option to rebook or, in BA’s case, vouchers.

This watchdog has closed its probe, concluding that “a lack of clarity in the law”.

AJ Bell’s Russ Mould said:  “Airlines 1: passengers 0; this was not the outcome the nation wanted.

“British Airways and Ryanair have escaped what could have been a nasty and very lengthy battle over their refusal to give customers cash refunds for flights that people were unable or unwilling to take during the pandemic.

“It’s surprising for the Competition and Markets Authority to say the probe would have been too lengthy and costly due to the complexities involved. It’s effectively saying, ‘we’ll do our job but only if each task doesn’t take too long and isn’t expensive to carry out.’

“The airlines will welcome the decision as the last thing they wanted was a new barrage of refund requests and potentially a chunky fine.

“The industry is still in a fragile state financially as ongoing restrictions on travel continue to make it hard for them to operate efficiently and many consumers also can’t be bothered to book flights because of the ever-changing rules around testing.

“There are now a lot of people sitting on vouchers which have a deadline for use. That means people will now have to commit to a flight this year or next year or face the prospect of writing off the value of the voucher. The latter would be a shame as it might simply be easier to book something and then rearrange closer to the time if they aren’t ready to go on a plane for a while.”


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