BA and Ryanair face investigation

By | Category: Travel rumblings

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has intervened in the travel industry again by suggesting that British Airways, BA CityFlyer and Ryanair are not offering refunds to its passengers.

image of a British Airways plane
Image c British Airways

It says that “During periods of lockdown across the UK, British Airways and Ryanair refused to give refunds to people that were lawfully unable to fly, with British Airways offering vouchers or rebooking and Ryanair providing the option to rebook.”

Consequently it has opened an enforcement investigation into the airlines.

The attitudes of the airlines meant that consumers were out of pocket and this was unfair.

In the last six months the CMA has started to investigate any numbers of companies in the travel industry for their refunds policy. Lastminute.com, Teletext Holidays and Love Holidays have all faced criticism for attitudes to customer refunds.

The law says that people unable to take flights and holidays due to the lockdowns are entitled to refunds. Some in the travel industry vacillated on this, one reason being that the industry tends to use funds it receives to pay bills as it goes.

Before now, Just about Travel has said that customer monies should be ring-fenced from being used by the companies concerned.

But equally the industry has been badly hit by the pandemic and it is easily understood that they would use all funds at their disposal to stay afloat.

If the government provided greater support to the industry then it could fulfil its obligations under the law.

As it stands some companies won’t survive and the government will probably have to pick up the pieces as most companies will be ATOL bonded.

But equally the CMA and the CAA could have been watching the industry more closely over the years. It could, for example, have interfered over the very slow delay in honouring EU261 payments and why so much is still outstanding to consumers. All it needs to do is talk to some lawyers and claims agents to get an idea of how big a problem it still is.

When all is said and done, neither the travel industry nor the regulators come out of this very well

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