UK markets close in 8 hours 6 minutes
  • FTSE 100

    7,163.17
    +16.49 (+0.23%)
     
  • FTSE 250

    22,763.15
    +18.64 (+0.08%)
     
  • AIM

    1,250.04
    -0.92 (-0.07%)
     
  • GBP/EUR

    1.1620
    -0.0016 (-0.14%)
     
  • GBP/USD

    1.4112
    +0.0005 (+0.03%)
     
  • BTC-GBP

    28,526.30
    +65.96 (+0.23%)
     
  • CMC Crypto 200

    1,009.72
    +40.88 (+4.22%)
     
  • S&P 500

    4,255.15
    +7.71 (+0.18%)
     
  • DOW

    34,393.75
    -85.85 (-0.25%)
     
  • CRUDE OIL

    71.21
    +0.33 (+0.47%)
     
  • GOLD FUTURES

    1,869.10
    +3.20 (+0.17%)
     
  • NIKKEI 225

    29,441.30
    +279.50 (+0.96%)
     
  • HANG SENG

    28,654.65
    -187.48 (-0.65%)
     
  • DAX

    15,784.40
    +110.76 (+0.71%)
     
  • CAC 40

    6,641.50
    +25.15 (+0.38%)
     

British Airways hits out at flight refund investigation

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3-min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
British Airways plane
British Airways plane

British Airways has hit out at ministers after a government watchdog opened an investigation into whether it and Ryanair had breached consumer law by failing to offer refunds to customers.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is examining if the two airlines failed to offer refunds for flights that took place but were not allowed for non-essential travel during the pandemic.

A BA spokesman said: “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.

“Any action taken against our industry will only serve to destabilise it, with potential consequences for jobs, business, connectivity and the UK economy.​”

Legally, customers are entitled to a cash refund within 14 days.

During the pandemic BA offered vouchers or rebookings, while Ryanair provided the option to rebook, the watchdog said.

“The CMA is concerned that, by failing to offer people their money back, both firms may have breached consumer law and left people unfairly out of pocket.

"It is now seeking to resolve these concerns with the companies, which may include seeking refunds, or other redress, for affected customers."

Andrea Coscelli, the CMA chief executive, 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."

British Airways said: “During this unprecedented crisis we have issued well over 3m refunds and helped millions of our customers change their travel dates or destinations and we're grateful to them for their ongoing support.

"We continue to offer​ highly flexible booking policies at the same time as operating a vastly reduced schedule due to government-imposed travel restrictions and we have acted lawfully at all times.”

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

The CMA said that it should not be assumed either airline has broken the law.

The watchdog last month took enforcement action against several package holiday firms, forcing them to agree to offer cash refunds to customers.

Teletext Holidays and Alpharooms agreed to hand back £7m to customers who had their holidays cancelled due to the pandemic.

It follows similar agreements made by LoveHolidays, Lastminute.com, Virgin Holidays and Tui UK after thousands of customers complained that the companies had failed to refund them for cancelled trips.

The travel sector has been one of the hardest hit during the pandemic and has faced the most scrutiny from the CMA, which wrote to more than 100 firms reminding them of their responsibility to process all refunds within 14 days by law for any cancellations.