Lufthansa pays out €2.7bn in refunds

The Lufthansa Group of airlines has paid out €2.7 billion in refunds for flights cancelled due to Covid after processing a record number in the past seven days.

Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines and Eurowings have been refunding passengers at a rate of 1,800 per hour over the past week, the group reported.

In a statement, Lufthansa said 6.3 million passengers have now been reimbursed and all claims received to the end June have been settled.

However, one million refunds remain outstanding from fresh cancellations due to changing travel restrictions.

The group did not put a value on the refunds still owed.

Lufthansa reported it had “refunds of slightly less than €1 billion still due” in early August, having refunded €1 billion to consumers in July and €2 billion in the year to August.

It said: “Only complex cases requiring additional processing are still outstanding [from the period to June].

“[But] due to the evolving nature of travel restrictions and corridors across the world, new reimbursement claims are continuously rising as a result of flight cancellations and entry regulations.”

It reported: “The number of open refund claims will continue to develop dynamically but decrease further in the coming weeks.”

The group said it is “working continuously to speed up the processing” of refunds and had tripled the number of employees in customer call centres.

The refunds are in addition to vouchers issued for cancelled flights. The group acknowledged last month: “It’s our target to issue vouchers and there is a lot of acceptance.”

Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian Airlines and Brussels Airlines tickets can now be re-booked as often as required without charge.

The free re-booking policy, announced on August 25, applies to all new bookings on short, medium and long-haul routes.

Group chief executive Carsten Spohr presented cautious recovery plans last month as he reported a half-year loss of €3.6 billion to June.

He said Lufthansa carriers “expect to reach about 50% of 2019 capacity” by the end of the year and two-thirds of 2019’s level in 2021.

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