The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has launched an investigation into whether airlines have breached consumer rights by failing to offer cash refunds for flights they could not lawfully take due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The investigation will consider situations in which airlines continued to operate flights despite people being unable to travel for non-essential purposes in the UK or abroad.
In some cases in which flights were not cancelled, customers were not offered refunds even though they could not lawfully travel. Instead, many were offered the option to rebook or to receive a voucher.
The CMA said it is concerned that certain airlines may have breached consumers’ legal rights by failing to offer cash refunds, leaving people unfairly out of pocket.
According to CMA Chief Executive, Andrea Coscelli: “We will be carefully analysing all the evidence to see whether any airlines breached consumers’ legal rights by refusing people cash refunds for flights they could not lawfully take.
“We recognise the continued pressure that businesses are currently facing, but they have a responsibility to treat consumers fairly and abide by their legal obligations.”
The CMA will be writing to a number of airlines requiring information to understand more about their approaches to refunds for consumers prevented from flying by lockdown.
Following a careful analysis of this evidence, the CMA then will decide whether to launch enforcement action against individual airlines.