To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what recent discussions he has had with the Civil Aviation Authority on progress on refunding passengers for flights cancelled due to the covid-19 outbreak; and whether refund credit notes for package travel are financially protected under the Atol scheme.
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, what steps his Department has taken to support the aviation industry to fulfil its legal obligations on passenger refunds during the covid-19 outbreak; and what plans he has to introduce a Travel Guarantee Fund to support travel companies during that outbreak.
There have been no changes to consumer law, and airlines are expected to abide by this and honour consumer rights. We have been clear with industry that when consumers are entitled to a refund and ask for one, refunds must be paid in a timely manner, and the process should not be unduly difficult for consumers.
My department is working to consider the impacts of COVID-19 on the ATOL Scheme, proposals for vouchers, and the payment of refunds for cancelled holidays and flights. We are working to reach a position on this issue that balances the need to protect consumer rights whilst recognising the continuing pressure on industry.
The Civil Aviation Authority are responsible for enforcing European Regulation 261/2004. My department works closely with the Civil Aviation Authority and has regular discussions with them about the range of issues that have arisen from the COVID-19 crisis – including issues relating to enforcement action in respect of refund payments.
On 1 July 2020 the Civil Aviation Authority provided an update on its website about its review into the refund policies of airlines during the coronavirus pandemic. They are reviewing the refund policies of all UK airlines, as well as a number of international airlines that operate flights to and from the UK. The review is considering how airlines are handling refunds for flight-only bookings during the COVID-19 pandemic.