Aviation watchdog secures €579,000 in refunds for airline passengers

Ryanair accounted for 44% of complaints while Aer Lingus accounted for 26% of complaints to the aviation watchdog last year
Aviation watchdog secures €579,000 in refunds for airline passengers

Gordon Deegan

The aviation sector watchdog last year recovered €579,000 in refunds for disgruntled air passengers over mainly cancelled flights.

The Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR) annual report shows last year it received 1,479 complaints over airlines, down 67 per cent on the record-breaking 4,543 complaints from airline customers in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The €579,000 recovered in funds by the CAR Air Passenger Rights team is less than half the €1.25 million total recovered refunds in 2020.

Along with the €579,000 recovered last year, CAR obtained a further €35,000 in compensation in respect of 897 complaints.

The lodging of the report with the Oireachtas coincides with passenger complaints over Aer Lingus cancelling a number of flights at short notice in recent days, with more than 60 flights cancelled at varying notice in the past week.

The report also states in 2021 CAR administered 2,246 claims by customers of collapsed travel firms who received €2.2 million in refunds from insolvency protection bonds held by the Commission, the Traveller’s Protection Fund and refund credit notes.

The bulk of the complaints last year related to the collapse of Joe Walsh Pilgrim tours on April 27th, 2021, where CAR received 2,836 claims out of the 2,970 claims made concerning four company collapses.

The report states that the collapse of four travel firms during 2021 “demonstrates the continuing difficulties faced by the industry during the year. We took on additional staff to manage such a large volume of claims”.

Airline complaints

Concerning passenger airline complaints, the report shows Ryanair accounted for 44 per cent of complaints while Aer Lingus accounted for 26 per cent of complaints in 2021. Some 52 other airlines accounted for the remaining 30 per cent of complaints to CAR.

The number of complaints against Ryanair totalled 647, with 69 per cent or 427 of concluded complaints to date upheld with 192 not sustained against the airline. A further 28 investigations are ongoing.

The report shows that 387 complaints were made against Aer Lingus with 65 per cent or 243 of concluded complaints upheld and 132 not upheld. The Commission has investigations ongoing in 12 Aer Lingus complaints.

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