Ministers have vowed to move forward with proposals to require airlines to refund passengers for flights that were canceled due to the lockdown.


MINISTERS have vowed to press ahead with plans to make airlines refund passengers whose flights were cancelled due to lockdown.

The department for transport denied reports it had quietly shelved a new compensation scheme for pandemic hit travellers.

There were claims the Government wanted to drop the proposal because the aviation industry has already taken a battering from Covid.

That would have left sun seekers hundreds of pounds out of pocket, with the suggestion sparking concern among consumer champions.

But tonight a DfT spokesman insisted: “It is wrong to claim that plans to ensure airlines refund passengers will be scrapped.

“We remain committed to protecting passengers who are waiting for refunds from flights affected by Covid restrictions.”

Normally customers are due a full refund if their flight is axed.

But lockdown rules made it illegal for almost all passengers to board a plane.

That meant airlines were not technically responsible for cancellations – creating a legal loophole.

British Airways and Ryanair refused to give passengers their money back.

After an outcry from MPs ministers agreed to plans to toughen up the rules to protect travellers.

They pledged to grant the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) watchdog extra enforcement powers.

The DfT said the change will “build consumer confidence and develop trust in booking travel”.

Confusion then emerged over whether the reform would go ahead after a parliamentary statement by aviation minister Robert Courts.

In it he said reform of the CAA’s overall powers was not “appropriate” at the moment because of the impact of the pandemic on the industry.

But it is understood he was talking in general terms and the plans for new refund powers are still on track.

Ministers will soon launch a consultation with the public and industry on exactly how they should be introduced.

The Competition and Markets Authority has already launched a probe into whether BA and Ryanair broke consumer law by refusing to offer refunds.

A spokesman for British Airways said: “Where a customer’s flight is cancelled we always contact them to offer options including a full refund.

“Customers who are unable to travel, or choose not to, can continue to change their flights or request a voucher for future use as part of our Book with Confidence policy, which has been available since the beginning of the pandemic.”


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