A MAJOR low-cost airline is being forced to reopen compensation claims for flight delays and cancellations.
The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has taken enforcement action against Wizz Air following high numbers of complaints about the airline not paying passengers what they are owed.
It says holidaymakers were left “very frustrated” after the airline failed to meet its passenger rights obligations – particularly around providing alternative flights when their flight had been cancelled.
This is likely to have contributed to a large number of County Court Judgements (CCJs) which have been found against Wizz Air over the last nine months, the CAA said.
A CCJ can be handed to a person or company if they owe someone money and a court has formally decided that the cash must be paid back.
The CAA has now instructed Wizz Air to make changes to its policies and procedures to ensure “consistent compliance” with its re-routing and care obligations.
It says the airline has engaged with the process and has committed to introduce changes.
The airline has also agreed to re-look at claims it received for replacement flight costs, transfers when replacement flights were via different airports, and care and assistance – typically hotel costs – following flight disruptions.
This means passengers who made claims to Wizz Air in the past, but had their claims incorrectly rejected, will receive the money they are legally owed.
Paul Smith, joint-interim chief executive at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said: “This enforcement action sends a clear message that airlines must meet their obligations to passengers when they cancel or delay a flight.
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“We will not hesitate to step in if we believe that airlines are not consistently doing this.”
Wizz Air said it has already launched its own commitments to reduce cancellations and create a better experience for customers.
Marion Geoffroy, managing director at Wizz Air UK, said: “Last summer, like all airlines in Europe, Wizz Air faced unprecedented operating challenges, driven mostly by the external environment.
“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 learned from this experience and have taken significant steps to make our operation more robust and customer-centric.”
Could I be owed compensation?
If you’re flying out of the UK, you’re legally entitled to compensation once your arrival is delayed by three hours or more.
Usually, if passengers are given less than two weeks’ notice that their flight is cancelled, they are also eligible for compensation.
But exactly how much you get under EU compensation rules depends on when the airline told you about the delay.
The action by the regulator again Wizz Air will cover claims made for flights due to depart from or arrive into a UK airport on or after March 18, 2022.
If you were affected, you won’t need to take any action to make sure your claims are being looked into.
Passengers whose flights were due to depart from or arrive into a UK airport before March 18, 2022, will need to put in a request for their claims to be reopened.
But you won’t be able to claim for flights which took place more than six years ago.
How do I get compensation?
If your flight was before March 18 last year, you will need to go through the airline to reopen your claim.
Each airline is likely to have a different application process for this.
Go onto your airline’s website for more information, or call them up.
Do you have a money problem that needs sorting? Get in touch by emailing email@example.com.
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