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TThe competition watchdog has closed its investigation into whether Ryanair and British Airways broke consumer law by failing to offer refunds for flights customers were unable to take during the lockdown.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said customers who could not take flights should be offered a full refund, but the investigation would take too long and cost too much for the taxpayer to be justified. . In June, the regulator launched the investigation and said companies may have had to reimburse flights that took place but were not cleared for non-essential travel.

During the pandemic, BA offered vouchers or new bookings, while Ryanair offered the option to change reservations on flights that were operating but should only have been used for essential travel, the CMA said. BA said it offered refunds for all canceled flights.

Andrea Coscelli, CMA general manager, said: “We strongly believe that people who are legally barred from taking flights due to lockdown laws should be offered a full refund and we have launched this investigation in the hope that we will be able to get a positive result for consumers.

“However, after reviewing the relevant law and gathering evidence in our investigation, we concluded that the time it would take to bring this case to court, and the uncertain outcome, can no longer justify the additional expenditure of public funds. . “

A spokesperson for Ryanair noted:

Ryanair welcomes the CMA’s decision to close its investigation. We operated a limited schedule during UK closures for customers who traveled for essential reasons. Passengers were able to change their bookings without paying the flight change fee and many took advantage of this option.

A spokesperson for British Airways noted:

During this unprecedented crisis, we have acted legally, issuing nearly four million refunds and offering highly flexible booking policies, allowing millions of our customers to change their travel dates or destinations. We are grateful for their support at a time when we have navigated dynamic and rapidly changing travel restrictions to maintain a limited schedule that has provided vital air links for travelers and cargo throughout the pandemic.

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