The UK Competition and Market Authority (CMA) announced on Wednesday that it was investigating whether Ryanair and British Airways airlines broke the law by refusing to offer refunds to customers who were forced to cancel their flights because of the COVID-19 lockdown.
“The CMA is concerned that, by failing to offer people their money back, both firms may have breached consumer law and left people unfairly out of pocket,” the CMA said in a statement.
According to the competition watchdog, during periods of lockdown across the UK, both airlines refused to give refunds to people who were lawfully unable to fly, with British Airways offering vouchers or rebooking and Ryanair providing the option to rebook.
“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,” Andrea Coscelli, CMA chief executive, was quoted as saying.
Reacting to the announcement, British Airways claimed, however, that it had acted “lawfully at all times” by offering highly flexible booking policies at the same time as operating a vastly reduced schedule due to government-imposed travel restrictions, while Ryanair said it had looked at refunds on a case-by-case basis and had paid refunds “in justified cases.”