Tuesday 10 December 2019 11:50 am

Thomas Cook: Regulator 'very sorry' for refund delay as customers wait more than two months

Britain’s aviation regulator has apologised to thousands of Thomas Cook customers facing delays to refunds owed to them after the travel firm collapsed.

Paul Smith, director of the Civil Aviation Authority, said the organisation was “very sorry,” adding that the CAA was “working tirelessly” to put the payments through.

Read more: Gatwick airport to lose 600,000 passengers because of Thomas Cook collapse

Speaking on BBC radio, Smith said more than 50,000 people were still owed money, despite the fact that the authority had already refunded £160m.

He said delays were being exacerbated by incomplete claim forms and fraudsters.

Thomas Cook collapsed on 23 September after it failed to get rescue money from its lenders, sparking a mammoth effort by the CAA to repatriate 150,000 people who had been stranded abroad.

Once the two-week operation had concluded, it began working to refund those who were covered by Atol-protected insurance on 7 October.

Tens of thousands of people registered for refunds on the first day, and the CAA said it expected to give them refunds within 60 days. However, only two-thirds were refunded by the weekend deadline.

Smith, consumers and markets director at the authority, said: “This is the biggest refund operation in UK travel. We have paid out already about £160m, and expect over the next couple of days to get that up above £180m.

“We have had to put some extra checks in because we were concerned about fraud. And we had some challenges with the data we received from the company. We are sorry for those people we have not yet been able to pay.”

Read more: What Thomas Cook’s collapse tells us about the power of disruption

“We really want to make these payments as quickly as we can because it is money people are entitled to,” he said.

About 300,000 claims have been received so far, with 215,000 confirmed as valid. However, 90,000 of those were from direct debit customers in October, whose money was automatically returned.