Urgent reforms have been called for to allow a watchdog to crack down on airlines who break the law by not reimbursing customers for canceled flights, a former transportation secretary said.
Cookham Conservative Peer Lord Young called Westminster and said tens of thousands of passengers had complained to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) about “inexcusable delays” in compensation.
He highlighted concerns from consumer groups that the regulator did not have the “right tools” to achieve effective enforcement against companies that violate the rules.
When asked about the issue in Parliament, Transport Minister Baroness Vere von Norbiton replied: “The government recognizes the challenge that consumers and businesses face in relation to refunds for canceled holidays and flights.
“We understand that if a flight or vacation is canceled, consumers have a legal right to a refund that must be paid for.
“The Civil Aviation Administration has launched a review of this issue. As a result, most airlines are now effectively paying refunds.”
Lord Young said: “You will know that tens of thousands of passengers have complained to the CAA about inexcusable delays in compensating for canceled flights.
“Will it introduce much-needed reforms that will allow the regulator to take quick and effective action to protect consumers when the law is broken?”
Former Tory Cabinet Secretary Lord Pickles said two package tour companies – Loveholidays and On the Beach – had left the Abta trade organization to avoid a full refund for cancellations due to Covid-19.
He added: “Will the minister carefully examine the regulations and the alleged loophole that suggests that a full refund is not due if the Foreign Office advises against travel and the company itself keeps a flight open and accommodation open? “
Lady Vere encouraged people to consider the impact of cancellation when creating their travel plans, including whether a company is a member of Abta and whether it has Atol protection.