Since the start of the pandemic I have been contacted by many constituents regarding disrupted flights and refunds from airline companies.
I recognise that airlines are facing huge volumes of enquiries and are working hard in unprecedented circumstances. However, for thousands of customers, many who have seen their own incomes hit during the coronavirus pandemic, it is vital that fair refunds are issued and that passengers do not lose out.
I have been calling for some time for an aviation sector support package. A key part of any such package must be that all operators fully comply, without delay, with all consumer right regulations – particularly with regards to giving full refunds.
As part of its review into how airlines are handling refunds during the pandemic, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has highlighted that, despite what it has described as a marked improvement since May, only a minority group of airlines have been consistently providing consumers with refunds in an acceptable timeframe. Consumer body Which? has called for the CAA to take urgent enforcement action against airlines that are failing to pay refunds, and has emphasised the huge financial and emotional toll it is having on thousands of people’s lives.
The Government has said it is working with the airlines to understand the challenges they face in order to get the money back to consumers, and that airlines should not deny consumers their legal right to a refund. I believe Government and the CAA should not be allowing consumers’ clear statutory rights to be ignored by some parts of the industry. We need to see action to protect the rights of consumers whose financial position may now be critical.
I have written to the Transport Secretary on this issue and will be updating all those who contacted me. If you have been affected by flight cancellations and have not received a refund please contact my office.