Wizz Air: Airline ‘has not been paying six years’ worth of claims’ to passengers over delayed flights
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Wizz Air has been ordered to look into six years’ worth of passenger claims by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), in what has been described as an ‘unprecedented’ intervention by the aviation regulator.
According to The Times, the body was taking action against the Hungarian-based low-cost carrier after concerns it had not been paying passengers what they were owed for cancelled or delayed flights. This comes as Wizz Air was named the worst airline for UK flight delays in the past two years.
The report said the regulator had “significant concerns” over the number of complaints made about the carrier from passengers who believed it failed to meet its legal obligations around ensuring they reached their destination when a flight was cancelled.
The regulator said among the concerns, passengers were not being provided with alternative flight options when theirs was cancelled, which is a legal obligation. The airline has reportedly committed to look again at claims for replacement flight costs. Transfers when replacement flights were via different airports, and care such as hotel and food costs.
Paul Smith, the CAA’s joint interim chief said: “We made it clear to Wizz Air last year the way it was treating passengers was unacceptable. This enforcement action sends a clear message that airlines must meet their obligations to passengers when they cancel or delay a flight.
“We will not hesitate to step in if we believe that airlines are not consistently doing this. Passengers have every right to expect their complaints and claims to be resolved quickly and efficiently and to be treated fairly by airlines, in line with regulations.
“We will continue to watch the situation closely to check that passengers receive what they are owed and that Wizz Air’s policies have improved, so that consumers have a better experience if things go wrong.”
Wizz Air, in response, said it had learnt from its mistakes and that significant improvements had already been in place. According to the firm, the airline faced “unprecedented” operating challenges mostly due to “external environment” which includes air-traffic control disruptions, airport constraints and staff shortages across the whole supply chain, “like all airlines in Europe.”
Wizz Air’s UK managing director Marion Geoffroy said: “As a result, we were unable to meet our own high standards of service. Flights were too often late or cancelled, disruption management overwhelmed our internal and external resources, and claims took too long to process and pay.
“We have learnt from this experience and have taken significant steps to make our operation more robust and customer-centric.”
How you can claim
According to the CAA, claims relating to flights scheduled from March 18 last year onwards will be automatically reviewed. Customers can request that claims for flights before that date are also reopened, as long as the scheduled travel date was within the last six years.
The action relates to flights to and from the UK. The CAA will then review a sample of the claims that Wizz Air re-examines to ensure it is satisfied that passengers receive what they are owed.