Which? has become entangled in a row with Ryanair over passenger refunds for flights that were cancelled during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The consumer group prompted a furious response from Europe’s largest budget carrier after it disputed claims made by chief executive Michael O’Leary in a BBC Radio 5 interview over its refunds record. The airline denied a claim by Which? that it had said that “every passenger booked with the airline has been refunded”.
The airline said: “This claim is invented by Which? and is false. Many millions of Ryanair customers have already accepted free moves or vouchers rather than refunds, and they have clearly not been refunded. Nor have customers who booked via unlicensed screenscrapers, because these screenscrapers are pocketing the refunds and not passing the cash onto consumers. What Ryanair has said is that every customer who has requested a refund has received it.”
The airline also disputed case studies released by Which? of three passengers who purportedly had struggled to receive refunds- Ryanair said it rejected “false and malicious” claims made by the consumer magazine.
A spokesperson for the budget carrier said: “All Ryanair passengers who have requested a refund since our offices reopened on 1st June, have now received these refunds. There is no backlog of refunds. Ryanair has also put in place a procedure whereby customers of unlicensed screenscrapers can apply directly to the airline to receive their refund.
“It is notable that Which? remains silent on the illegal behaviour of these screenscrapers who use fake emails and virtual credit cards to overcharge and rip off customers.” Which? said the analysis in July of more than 12,000 complaints about flight refunds from passengers found that more than four in 10 applied to Ryanair.
Which? Travel editor Rory Boland said: “We have had more complaints about Ryanair’s handling of refunds than any other airline, with some passengers still struggling to get their money up to six months after their flights were cancelled.
“Airlines are facing a serious financial crisis but they are also facing a crisis of trust. Claiming all passengers who have requested a refund have received it when that’s not true is hardly going to help matters. Ryanair now risks adding insult to injury by refusing to refund passengers who can not fly this month because of the latest lockdown.
“Major airlines have acted shamefully and without fear of consequences during this pandemic – the government must urgently review the CAA’s powers as part of its aviation recovery plan, to ensure airlines do not feel empowered to brazenly break consumer law again in the future.”