<p>Hundreds of UK flights have been cancelled on the day in the past couple of weeks</p>

Hundreds of UK flights have been cancelled on the day in the past couple of weeks

Flight cancelled? You deserve an automatic refund, say MPs

‘Airline passengers should be granted automatic compensation, eliminating the need to apply for a refund’ – Transport Select Committee

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Monday 25 April 2022 07:22
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The Transport Select Committee has called for tougher action against airlines that are slow in paying refunds – and better protection for passengers when carriers go bust.

In its latest report, UK aviation: reform for take-off, the committee’s MPs called on the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to “utilise its existing powers to challenge businesses and to pursue enforcement orders from the courts to tackle infringements of consumer rights in relation to refunds”.

During the pandemic, many thousands of passengers whose flights were cancelled or were unable to travel because of government restrictions have reported lengthy delays in getting their money back.

As a longer-term measure, the Transport Select Committee is calling for passengers to get automatic refunds when they are due – typically when a flight is cancelled.

The report says: “The government must introduce a mechanism to ensure that when entitled to a refund by law, airline passengers are granted automatic compensation, eliminating the need for customers manually to apply for a refund.”

The CAA has openly stated that its power to enforce refunds “are insufficient in supporting the speedy redress of non-compliance by airline operators”.

In response to the new report, the consumer director, Paul Smith, said: “We have regularly asked for stronger consumer enforcement powers, including the ability to impose fines on airlines.

“This would allow us to take faster action when appropriate and bring our powers in line with other sectoral regulators.”

MPs said that proposed legislation on airline insolvency should be brought in with urgency. The government’s December 2019 Queen’s Speech included a proposal to legislate, following the collapse of Thomas Cook and its airline three months earlier.

After tens of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money was spent on a rescue airlift, the legislation proposes “a special administration regime for airlines to support the needs of passengers post-insolvency and to keep aircraft fleet flying long enough for passengers to be repatriated”.

The report also calls for the CAA’s regulatory powers to be enhanced to “improve their oversight of airlines in distress” and mitigate the effects of a future airline failure.

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