Airlines face crackdown on coronavirus refunds

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Tui, Virgin Atlantic, Ryanair and easyJet are among a number of names known to have been criticized for dragging their heels in reimbursing customers. Many would-be vacationers have waited months to get their money back, despite rules that flight refunds should be made within a week of a cancellation.Refund requests are expected to rise again in the coming weeks, as airlines are forced to reconsider their summer vacation schedules amid fears of a second wave of Covid overseas. Tui has already canceled all vacations on the Spanish mainland until August 9.

In an effort to avoid huge payments as the pandemic struck, many travel companies made it easier for vacationers to receive a credit note or voucher rather than a refund, which allowed them to conserve cash. vital to support their finances.

The pandemic has wiped out all but a handful of flights and has exposed a destructive loophole in the travel industry’s finances. Many carriers depend on payments for flights that are not expected to take off for weeks, months, or even years to build up their cash reserves and use that money to fund their operations now.

Industry insiders have said that removing airlines’ licenses to operate is only the worst case scenario and the process could take years.

One of the most prominent examples of CAA taking enforcement action in recent years has been its battle with Ryanair, which refused to compensate passengers for flights canceled by strikes in the summer of 2018.

An easyJet spokesperson said the company is currently processing refunds for customers in less than 30 days and has increased its call center staff to keep up with the demand. He added: “We have engaged with CAA throughout the pandemic and we do not expect any enforcement action from them.

A Virgin Atlantic spokesperson said, “We would reassure all customers that if they have requested a refund for a canceled trip, it will be refunded in full, and the refund processing job is our priority. In order to speed up the process, we have increased the size of the refund teams and trained additional staff to use the required systems, increasing our ability to process refunds. ”

CAA, Tui and Ryanair did not respond to requests for comment.

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