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UK waived claims in opposition to Ryanair and British Airways for refunds

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: British Airways planes parked at Gatwick Airport South Terminal in Crawley, UK on August 25, 2021. REUTERS / Peter Nicholls / File Photo

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LONDON (Reuters) – The UK competition authority has suspended its lawsuit against Ryanair and British Airways for failing to offer refunds to passengers prevented from flying due to COVID-19 restrictions on the grounds that the legal situation is unclear.

During the pandemic lockdown, IAG-owned British Airways did not offer refunds for those legally unable to fly, vouchers or rebooking, and Ryanair offered the option to rebook.

The Competition and Market Authority (CMA) took action against the airlines in June, demanding that passengers who were legally unable to travel on flights booked in good faith should get their money back.

However, on Thursday it said the law did not give passengers a clear enough right to a refund in such unusual circumstances.

Chief Executive Andrea Cocelli said the CMA "firmly believes" that passengers should be offered a full refund.

"However, after considering the relevant laws and gathering evidence in our investigation, we concluded that the long time it would take to bring this case to court and the uncertain outcome did not affect further public spending can justify more. " ," he said.

He added that the CMA hoped the law would be clarified.

Ryanair welcomed the decision. "We ran a limited schedule during the lockdown in the UK for customers who traveled for important reasons," a spokesman said.

"Passengers were able to change their bookings without paying the flight change fee and many took advantage of this option."

British Airways said in a statement that it acted lawfully at all times during the crisis, making nearly 4 million refunds and offering highly flexible booking policies.

"We are grateful for the support (from our customers) at a time when we are navigating dynamic and rapidly changing travel restrictions to keep to a limited schedule," it said.

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