Ryanair customers will not be refunded for flights in November, according to its boss, despite the UK government banning all but essential travel.
Michael O’Leary said if a flight waxs operating, passengers would not get their money back but they could change to a later flight without paying a fee.
From Thursday, all but essential travel will be banned under a second lockdown.
Ryanair said the first lockdown and subsequent restrictions had resulted in an 80% drop in passenger numbers.
It said 17.1 million people travelled on the airline in the six months to September, compared with 85.7 million last year.
The carrier reported a €196.5m (£174m) loss for the period compared with a €1.15bn profit last year.
But it warned the situation was likely to worsen, saying it “will continue to be a hugely challenging year for Ryanair”.
The new lockdown measures for England to stop the spread of the coronavirus were announced on Saturday and are expected to come into force on 5 November following a vote in the House of Commons on Wednesday.
They will remain in place until at least 2 December though Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said restrictions could extend beyond that date.
From 5 November until 2 December, people living in England are not allowed to travel overseas “unless for work, education or other legally permitted reasons”.
If you’ve booked a flight to go on holiday during that period you are not supposed to travel.
But because people who have a valid reason can travel, airlines will operate a limited number of flights to certain destinations.
In fact, Ryanair says it won’t cancel any of the flights it had scheduled during that period.
What Can The Passengers Do?
However, the law states that you are only entitled to a refund if your flight is actually cancelled.
So the only option for people who are booked to fly with Ryanair on a holiday during that period is to try and reschedule their booking to a Ryanair flight after 2 December.
There is no fee for changing bookings which were made after 10 Junebut there is also no guarantee that the new international travel restrictions won’t remain in place beyond that date.
Commenting on what it means for people who have booked flights, Mr O’Leary told the BBC’s Today programme: “If a flight is operating then no, we will not be offering refunds.
“But what customers can avail of is our change facility and we’ve waived the change fee so if they have booking in November they can change it and move it to December or January if needs be. But there won’t be refunds on flights that are operating and travelling.”
However, the no fee on changing flights only applies to bookings made after 10 June for journeys between July and November, according to Ryanair’s website.
‘No Outstanding Refunds’
Mr O’Leary also said that Ryanair had paid out all refunds to customers who had requested one following disruption to flights earlier this year.
“We have refunded every single customer who has requested a refund… from March, April, May, June and July.
“Every customer who has requested a cash refund from Ryanair has now received it.”
He said the airline had “no backlog” in its refunds department, adding: “Even if you apply for a refund today you’ll receive now in the next three to four days.”
But Rory Boland, travel editor at consumer rights group Which?, said: “While Ryanair has recently made some improvements, we still get more complaints about its handling of refunds than any other airline, including from a steady stream of passengers still struggling to get their money back.”
He added: “Trust in travel has taken a battering during the pandemic and questionable claims about an airline’s performance on refunds are hardly going to help matters. Ryanair now risks adding insult to injury by refusing to refund passengers who cannot fly this month because of the latest lockdown.
€1.5bn In Refunds
“The airline is only offering fee-free transfers to a later flight.”
Mr O’Leary said the airline had paid out €1.5bn in refunds amid the pandemic.
Ryanair’s revenues in the six months to September plunged to €1.1bn from €5.3bn last year, as air travel ground to a virtual halt after measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus were introduced.
However, when flights did resume Ryanair said passenger confidence and forward bookings “were negatively impacted by the return of uncoordinated EU government flight restrictions in September and October which heavily curtailed travel to and from much of Central Europe, the UK, Ireland, Austria, Belgium and Portugal”.
If you have a package holiday cancelled by the provider, then a refund should be provided for the whole holiday within 14 days
If your flight is cancelled, you are entitled to a full refund to the original form of payment within seven days, although many airlines are struggling to meet that deadline. You can accept, or refuse, vouchers or a rebooking but a voucher will probably be invalid if the airline later goes bust
If you decide against going on a future flight, which is not yet cancelled, then there is no right to a refund. Different airlines have different rules over what you can do, but many are waiving any charges for changing to a later flight or having a voucher instead. Your travel insurance is unlikely to cover you.