Customers who paid bust operator Lowcostholidays may have to wait months to reclaim costs, according to the body tasked with licensing travel trade in Ireland.
The Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR) said customers seeking refunds should gather as much documentation relating to their booking as possible to expedite the claim process.
“Really it’s related to the speed with which they [customers] can get the evidence together to back-up their claim and present it to the commission, and we’ll work on that as quickly as we can,” said David Hodnett, CAR director of legal affairs.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr Hodnett said the claims process will take “weeks to months”, but warned that customers will not be receiving their money “this week or next week”.
He also confirmed that the CAR bond only applies to customers who bought a package holiday from Lowcostholidays, and not those who bought accommodation only from the group.
“The commission bond only covers customers of Lowcostholidays.ie who booked overseas travel and accommodation with that travel agent. That’s the customers to whom the bond is directed and restricted,” said Mr Hodnett. “It does not extend to customers of other lowcost travel group companies, such as the company that allows people just to buy the bed alone abroad.”
The commission has published a form on its website for Lowcostholiday customers seeking to claim back their costs. It is available on www.aviationreg.ie.
The collapse of Lowcostholidays has caused considerable inconvenience for thousands of customers who have yet to go on their holidays, with many weighing up whether to avail of the holiday and pay again for their accommodation, or to cancel the trip completely.
In most instances, the flights associated with package deals sold by the company were paid for immediately; however, the hotels have yet to receive any payment.
Many holiday-goers are now left to decide if they will avail of the paid-for flights and pay a second time for the hotel before claiming back the costs, or cancelling their entire trip.
Fiona Naughton from Cobh, Co Cork, had been looking forward to a family holiday in Spain with her partner and two sons, aged three and two months.
They had booked their trip to Torremolinos with Lowcostholidays just three weeks ago, and only discovered the company had gone bust when they received an email from their airport transfer firm informing them their booking had been cancelled.
“We have our flights paid for with Ryanair, but when we called the hotel they said that they hadn’t been paid,” Ms Naughton said.
She said the accommodation will cost them a further €1,200 to €1,300 on top of what they had already paid Lowcostholidays, and they are looking into how to recover the costs they paid to the now defunct operator.
“Obviously with the new baby we were looking forward to going away, and for our three-year-old it was supposed to be his first trip away since he was one, but it’s not working out very well,” she said of the difficulties caused by the operator going into administration.
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