Consumer group Which one? argued that the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) had allowed airlines to “continue to behave in terrible ways” with people who still owed millions of pounds.
The criticism came as the regulator released its review of refunds during the COVID-19[feminine[femininecrisis, which found several airlines, including Virgin Atlantic, easyJet, Ryanair and Tui they initially either did not offer cash payments or had a large backlog of applications.
The regulator said its talks had resulted in a change in approach from carriers and they were now all proposing to reimburse passengers.
He also pledged to continue to audit Virgin Atlantic’s performance “in a particularly thorough manner and will consider the use of formal enforcement powers if necessary”.
Sir Richard BransonThe airline’s carrier had warned customers that they might need to wait up to 120 days for a payment, but has now pledged to reduce the maximum month-to-month wait, to 30 days in October.
UK consumer laws state that passengers are entitled to cash refunds for flights canceled within seven days.
The CAA has the power to take legal action against aviation companies, but the review said it is “not well suited for quick action.”
However, Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel said: “The regulator is failing the consumers it is supposed to protect.
“The reality is that people still owe millions of pounds in refunds, face financial and emotional turmoil and continue to be trapped by a number of airlines that have been brazenly breaking the law for months.
“These airlines will now feel that they can continue to behave in terrible ways without incurring any penalties or sanctions. ”
He added: “The government must take this opportunity to make much-needed reforms, including giving regulators greater powers to take swift and meaningful action, but consumers must be assured that these will actually be used. against companies that break the law. “
Richard Moriarty, Managing Director of CAA, said: “The airlines we examined have responded by dramatically improving performance, reducing backlogs and improving processing speeds for the benefit of consumers.
“While we have taken into account the serious operational challenges that many airlines have faced, we have made it clear that customers cannot be abandoned and that airlines need to pay refunds as quickly as possible.
“There is still work to be done.
“We demanded commitments from airlines as they continue to pay refunds to customers. If an airline does not live up to the commitments it has made, we will not hesitate to take further action if necessary. “