Save, make, understand money

Household Bills

British Airways and Ryanair investigated over Covid refunds

Emma Lunn
Written By:
Emma Lunn

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is investigating whether British Airways and Ryanair broke consumer law by failing to offer refunds for flights customers could not legally take.

The regulator has opened enforcement cases into both airlines and written to them detailing its concerns. The move comes after the CMA opened an investigation into the airlines sector in December 2020 following reports that consumers were being denied refunds for flights that they couldn’t legally take.

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. Both airlines still operated many flights, despite lockdown restrictions making non-essential travel illegal.

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

Andrea Coscelli, chief executive of the CMA, 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 and Ryanair now have the opportunity to respond to the CMA’s detailed concerns.

Rory Boland, travel editor at Which?, Tweeted: “It’s outrageous to not refund passengers in a lockdown. They are abiding by the law and protecting public health by not travelling – many booked before the pandemic. Of all the bad behaviour we saw last year from airlines this was the most irresponsible.”