Ryanair, the budget airline, has accused travel booking websites of not paying refunds to customers.
The firm claimed it had received thousands of complaints from customers of websites including kiwi.com, lastminute.com, On The Beach and Love Holidays who are yet to receive their money back for flights cancelled because of coronavirus.
The firm said “screen scraper” websites, which book flights on behalf of customers using Ryanair’s own website, had supplied the firm with fake customer details and “virtual” credit cards.
The airline said it would not refund any customers from websites that had provided false customer or credit card details after it received “thousands” of complaints per day from disgruntled customers still awaiting refunds that it had passed on to the firms.
The decision will affect the refunds of thousands of customers who booked flights through travel websites.
Eddie Wilson, a senior Ryanair executive, said: “We have been unable to deal with thousands of customers who booked through these websites because they have provided fictitious customer contact and payment details.”
Instead, Ryanair has set up a new “customer verification” system to allow people who had booked flights through travel websites to apply directly to the airline for refunds.
A spokesman for Love Holidays said it “absolutely refutes that we have provided any fake customer information or deliberately delayed the receipt and processing of airline refunds to our customers". The spokesman added: "We are aware that some online travel agents use fake customer details, but we absolutely do not.”
He said the firm had received only 28pc of the total due in refunds from airlines but had paid out refunds within five working days of receiving the funds.
A spokesman for On The Beach also rejected the allegations. “Ryanair has all the information required to process and fulfil refunds back on to the card on which the flights were paid, which are passed back to the customer without delay. Despite a requirement for airlines to refund flight money within seven days, On The Beach has been waiting for refunds for many months.”
Oliver Dlouhy of kiwi.com said: "The best thing Eddie Wilson can do for Kiwi.com customers who were booked on RyanAir flights that were cancelled is to transfer the money owed so that we can refund our customers. As of now, they have only passed on ten percent of their liabilities."
Lastminute.com did not respond to requests for comment.