Airlines including Wizz Air and Ryanair owe millions of pounds to passengers from unpaid refunds and expenses, according to an investigation by the consumer group Which?.
It called on the government and regulators to take urgent action over the £4.5m it calculates carriers owe in county court judgments (CCJs), describing the current enforcement of air passenger protections as “fundamentally flawed”.
Which? criticised “weak regulations” and a “dysfunctional dispute resolution system” for failing to help passengers enforce their rights.
Consumers can pursue payments through county courts if they believe that an airline has failed to meet their legal obligations. CCJs can then be issued to the company requiring them to pay the passenger.
Rocio Concha, Which? director of policy and advocacy, said: “The scale of court judgments piling up against major airlines is a result of a system where the odds are stacked against passengers and airlines feel empowered to routinely ignore their legal obligations to pay out refunds and compensation.”
Wizz Air accounts for almost half of the total amount owed, according to the consumer group’s analysis of the Registry Trust, a log of court documents and fines in England and Wales.
In December, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) raised “significant concerns” with Wizz Air over its high numbers of complaints and delays in paying passengers what they are owed. The airline blamed the “unprecedented level of disruption” during the pandemic and said it was “putting measures in place to ensure we are better prepared, including more customer services resources and revised processes”.
It has settled more than 400 CCJs since December, it said, adding that the outstanding cases were mostly related to not receiving judgments from courts “due to problems receiving post”.
A spokesperson said: “Online registers do not provide us with the information required to settle a case. We must, therefore, write to individual courts to apply for information about each case when we are made aware of it, and then wait to receive that information. This all makes for a complicated and… Source www.theguardian.com