The UK’s competition watchdog has closed an investigation into the legality of airlines failing to refund passengers who were prevented from flying by Covid restrictions.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched an investigation in June 2021 after British Airways offered customers vouchers or rebooking and Ryanair provided the option to rebook flights which could not be taken during lockdown.
While passengers are legally entitled to a refund for cancelled flights the CMA concluded that the law does not provide a sufficiently clear right to a refund in circumstances where a flight goes ahead but flyers are legally prevented from taking it.
Andrea Coscelli, Chief Executive of the CMA, said, “we strongly believe people who are legally prevented from taking flights due to lockdown laws should be offered a full refund and we launched this investigation in the hope that we would be able to secure a positive outcome for consumers.”
In the end, the watchdog concluded that the relevant law would give further legal proceedings an “uncertain outcome,” meaning that neither the time taken to push the case through the courts nor the cost to the taxpayer could be justified.
In a statement Ryanair said it “welcomes the CMA’s decision to close its investigation.”
“We operated a limited schedule during UK lockdowns for customers who travelled for essential reasons. Passengers had the option to change their bookings without paying the flight change fee and many availed of this option,” the budget airline continued.
The CMA called for the law to be clarified on behalf of Ryanair and British Airways passengers who were “unfairly” left out of pocket.