The UK Civil Aviation Authority has taken enforcement action against Wizz Air (Wizz Air Holdings Plc) following significant concerns over high volumes of complaints about the airline not paying passengers what they are owed.
The regulator has been in contact with Wizz Air for several months after complaints by passengers that their rights had not been met when flights were cancelled or delayed.
Passengers were left very frustrated because they believed the airline had failed to meet its passenger rights obligations - particularly around providing alternative flights to enable passengers to get to their destinations 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 UK Civil Aviation Authority has now instructed Wizz Air to make changes to its policies and procedures to ensure consistent compliance with its re-routing and care obligations.
Wizz Air has engaged with the regulator and has committed to introduce changes to its policies, procedures and passenger communications. The airline has also committed 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 will make sure passengers who made claims to Wizz Air in the past, but had their claims incorrectly rejected, will receive the money they are legally owed.
The action by the regulator will cover claims made for flights due to depart from or arrive into a UK airport on or after 18 March 2022. No action is needed on the part of passengers to ensure these claims are reviewed. Passengers whose flights were due to depart from or arrive into a UK airport before 18 March 2022 can also request for their claims with the airline to be reopened, as long as their flight was no more than six years ago.
Wizz Air has agreed to sign undertakings to formalise these commitments with the regulator.
The UK Civil Aviation Authority will monitor the airline for compliance with its revised policies and procedures over the forthcoming months. As part of the enforcement action, Wizz Air will also be required to provide information to the UK Civil Aviation Authority about its review of closed expenses claims.
The regulator will also review a sample of the claims that Wizz Air relooks at, so it is satisfied that passengers receive what they are 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. We will not hesitate to step in if we believe that airlines are not consistently doing this.
“Passengers have every right to expect their complaints and claims to be resolved quickly and efficiently and to be treated fairly by airlines, in line with regulations. We made it clear to Wizz Air last year that the way it was treating passengers was unacceptable.
“We will continue to watch the situation closely to check that passengers receive what they are owed and that Wizz Air’s policies have improved, so that consumers have a better experience if things go wrong”
Further information is available on the UK Civil Aviation Authority website.
Notes to editors
- The UK Civil Aviation Authority is the UK’s aviation regulator. We work so that the aviation industry meets the highest safety standards and consumers have choice, value for money, are protected and treated fairly when they fly.
- The Civil Aviation Authority’s civil enforcement powers stem from Part 8 of the Enterprise Act 2002. The regulator can use these powers to seek information and undertakings from businesses if it believes they are breaching consumer law in a way that harms the collective interests of consumers.
- An undertaking is a voluntary agreement a firm makes to address an enforcement authority’s concerns. An undertaking can also include enhanced consumer measures to provide redress to consumers who have already suffered loss because of the suspected breaches.
- These undertakings have been provided to the UK Civil Aviation Authority voluntarily and without any admission of wrongdoing or liability. It should not be assumed that Wizz Air has breached the law – only a court can decide whether a breach has occurred.
Information for consumers
- Airlines are required to offer passengers whose flights have been cancelled the choice of an alternative flight at the earliest opportunity under comparable transport conditions. We expect airlines to reimburse passengers the cost of booking their own replacement flights under comparable transport conditions if they fail to meet this obligation.
- Airlines are required to cover the costs of transferring the passenger to their original airport or another close by destination agreed by the passenger if that passenger is re-routed via alternative airports.
- Airlines are required to offer passengers care for denied boarding, flight cancellation and delays of at least two hours (including hotel accommodation for overnight delays) or reimburse passengers the costs they incur making their own care arrangements.