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UK launches investigation into airlines breaching consumer protection laws

The UK Competition and Markets Authority announced today, Wednesday, that it has opened an investigation into whether Irish airline Ryanair and British Airways broke the law by refusing to refund customers who were forced to cancel their flights due to the Covid-19 shutdown.


The CMA said in a statement published by the British government on its website, that "the British Capital Markets Authority is concerned that by not offering a refund, both companies may have violated consumer protection laws and left people to bear the losses at their own expense."


According to the competition watchdog, during lockdown periods across the UK, both airlines have refused to refund people who could not travel legally, with British Airways offering internal exchange vouchers or the ability to rebook and Ryanair offering the option to rebook. .


"Customers booked these flights in good faith and were not legally able to use them due to circumstances completely beyond their control...we believe they should have been refunded," said Andrea Coseli, chief executive of the CMA.


In response to the announcement, British Airways claimed, however, that it acted "lawfully at all times" by offering highly flexible booking policies while operating on a significantly reduced schedule due to government-imposed travel restrictions, while saying Ryanair considers refunds on a case-by-case basis and pays refunds "in justified cases".