The CAA is reviewing how airlines are handling Covid-19 refunds and says it is ‘considering if any action should be taken’ to protect consumer rights.
Director Richard Stephenson issued a ‘reactive’ statement to the BBC which said: “The UK Civil Aviation Authority has a track record of standing up for consumer rights and will continue to do so. We are reviewing how airlines are handling refunds during the coronavirus pandemic, and will consider if any action should be taken to ensure that consumer rights are protected.
“Under the law, consumers are entitled to receive a refund for their cancelled flights, despite the challenges the industry is currently facing. We support airlines offering consumers vouchers and rebooking alternatives where it makes sense for the consumer. But it is important that consumers are given a clear option to request a cash refund without unnecessary barriers. We expect airlines to provide refunds for cancelled flights as soon as practically possible, whilst appreciating there are operational challenges for airlines in the current circumstances.
“We have published guidance and advice for both industry and consumers and we continue to engage with airlines on this important issue. We do not expect airlines to systematically deny consumers their right to a refund.”
Rory Boland, Editor of Which? Travel, said the CAA must come down strongly but also called for Government intervention.
“While the CAA is right to remind airlines of their legal obligations to refund passengers for cancelled flights, incidents of carriers openly breaking the law are mounting up and people are being left thousands of pounds out of pocket as a result – so it is clear that more needs to be done to hold airlines to account.
“Customers of many airlines are being told to either accept a voucher or wait months for their money to be returned to them. Asking airlines to issue refunds ‘as soon as practically possible’ does nothing to remedy this, and risks giving too much leeway to those airlines which have a legal obligation to refund within seven days.
“The regulator must stand up for passengers’ rights and come down strongly on airlines that are systematically denying refunds for cancelled flights, and the government must urgently intervene with support for the industry, so carriers can comply with the law and refund consumers without fear of going bust.”