The British airline British Airways and the Irish Ryanair are targeted by an investigation into the non-reimbursement of tickets during the pandemic, announced Wednesday the British gendarme of the competition.
The Competition and Markets Authority explains in a press release that it intends to determine whether these two carriers have violated the law on consumer protection.
This investigation into British Airways and Ryanair comes after a review of the entire sector launched in December 2020 by the CMA.
The Authority had taken up the matter after information suggesting that travelers had not been able to obtain reimbursements for flights they had not been able to take due to restrictions linked to the health crisis.
According to the CMA, during the confinement periods, British Airways was content to offer vouchers to be used on a future trip, or ticket changes. The latter option was also offered by Ryanair.
The law provides that customers are entitled to a refund within 14 days.
The CMA believes that these practices may have been unfair and will now seek to resolve the problem with the companies, for example by trying to obtain reimbursements for affected customers.
“We understand that airlines have gone through a difficult period during the pandemic,” notes Andrea Coscelli, Director General of the CMA.
But “customers booked these flights in good faith and were unable to legally take them due to circumstances over which they had no control. We think these people should get their money back, ”he adds.
The CMA cannot say at this point whether these airlines have not obeyed the law. Its role is to resolve the problem with the companies, but only a court could ultimately rule on non-compliance with the legislation.
In a reaction sent to AFP, Ryanair claims to have made reimbursements “on a case-by-case basis” and when it was “justified”.
“Since June 2020, all our customers have been able to book a new flight free of charge and this option has been chosen by millions of customers in the United Kingdom,” adds the low-cost carrier.
For his part, a spokesperson for British Airways recalls that the company granted more than 3 million refunds during the crisis and helped millions of travelers to change their tickets.
“We acted by respecting the law at all times,” he explains.
“It is incredible that the government is seeking to further punish a sector that is on its knees, after having banned airlines from having significant flight programs for over a year now,” he concludes.