The Department for Transport says it is committed to financial protection for airline passengers still waiting on refunds for flights affected by Covid restrictions – and a consultation on the Civil Aviation Authority’s enforcement powers will be launched ‘soon’.
The government pledged to legislate to give the CAA stronger powers to enforce consumers’ rights to refunds from airlines in its Global Travel Taskforce report published in April.
At the time, it said the government will “build consumer confidence and develop trust in booking travel by putting further measures in place to ensure [consumers] their money is safe in case bookings are cancelled.
“This will include reforming the enforcement powers the CAA has on airlines that breach consumer rights, which will be detailed in the strategic framework for the aviation sector to be published later this year.”
But reports emerged this week suggesting the government has ‘scrapped’ plans to give the CAA more enforcement powers.
The initial story, in the Times, was based on a written response from aviation minister Robert Courts to Labour MP Ruth Cadbury who had sought clarity on whether the Department for Transport would be reviewing the statutory duties of the CAA.
Courts’ response, issued on September 15, said: “Due to the significant impact that the Covid-19 crisis has had on both our aviation industry and the CAA, we do not consider it appropriate at this time to review the statutory duties of the CAA overall. However, we will consider changes to the CAA’s powers and duties where necessary.”
A DfT spokesperson has since clarified: “It is wrong to claim that plans to ensure airlines refund passengers will be scrapped.
“We remain committed to protecting passengers who are waiting for refunds from flights affected by Covid restrictions, and we will soon be consulting on how we can strengthen the Civil Aviation Authority’s powers to enforce protections for air passengers.”