CMA Closes Investigation into Airline COVID Refund Policies


The UK’s competition watchdog has closed its investigation into British Airways and Ryanair’s COVID refund policies.

In response to concerns that the two airlines may have broken the law by failing to offer refunds for flights that customers could not legally take during periods of lockdown, an investigation was launched by the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) in June 2021.

Instead of offering refunds to passengers who had been unable to travel due to COVID restrictions, British Airways offered customers vouchers or rebooking while Ryanair provided the option to rebook.

After considering the evidence gathered during the investigation and the relevant consumer laws, the CMA took the decision to close the investigation.

The CMA cited a lack of clarity in the law on airline refunds making it uncertain whether customers prevented from flying by Covid travel restrictions would be able to secure refunds.

By law, passengers are legally entitled to a refund for cancelled flights, but the CMA concluded that the law does not provide a sufficiently clear right to a refund in circumstances where a flight goes ahead but customers are legally prevented from flying.

Travel Editor at consumer rights’ organisation Which?, Rory Boland, said the CMA’s decision was disappointing and that it was “hugely unfair that passengers have been left to shoulder the bill for following the law and protecting public health by staying home”.

Boland says it’s clear that consumers are being let down by current regulation and is calling for the Government to “urgently set out how it plans to review travel regulations and strengthen consumer protections“.


CMA Closes Investigation into Airline COVID Refund Policies 1

Gill Laing is a qualified Legal Researcher & Analyst with niche specialisms in Law, Tax, Human Resources, Immigration & Employment Law.

Gill is a Multiple Business Owner and the Managing Director of Prof Services - a Marketing Agency for the Professional Services Sector.

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