Airlines say they are clearing refunds backlog caused by cancellations

The latest revelations come as World Health Organisation (WHO) special envoy Dr David Nabarro said he would urge people thinking of travelling abroad to abandon their plans if there were any doubts in their minds.
Airlines say they are clearing refunds backlog caused by cancellations
A man wearing a protective face mask at a Ryanair check in desk in terminal one at Dublin airport recently. The airline has said it is making progress in clearing its refunds backlog. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
A man wearing a protective face mask at a Ryanair check in desk in terminal one at Dublin airport recently. The airline has said it is making progress in clearing its refunds backlog. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Ryanair has insisted it will have refunded 90% of passengers for Covid-19 affected flights by the end of the month, while Aer Lingus says it processed 250,000 vouchers and refunds.

The latest revelations come as World Health Organisation (WHO) special envoy Dr David Nabarro said he would urge people thinking of travelling abroad to abandon their plans if there were any doubts in their minds.

Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Sarah McInerney, Dr Nabarro said caution was much more preferable to being caught in a potentially "terrible" situation if things went wrong.

"What you don't want to do is go somewhere and get sick and be in a healthcare system you don't know," Dr Nabarro said.

In relation to getting back on airplanes and going to different countries, Dr Nabarro said:

It will take time but we want to check the risk experience [where you are going to] is the same as the risk [of] where you are coming from.

Ryanair, which has been the subject of withering criticism from passengers on various social media forums for its perceived lack of urgency in relation to refunds, claimed it was making "rapid progress in processing customer refunds" for flights cancelled from March to June.

Since its Dublin office reopened at the beginning of June, the airline said all March cash refund requests have now been cleared, and at the end of June, 50% of April cash refunds were cleared.

By July 15, the balance of April cash refunds will be processed, and by the end of July, all of May and most of June cash refunds will also be processed, Ryanair said.

The figures include passengers who have accepted travel vouchers and moving to flights in the next three months, the firm added.

A significant roadblock to refunds being processed was due to online travel agents providing "fake email addresses and virtual credit cards when making bookings, which cannot be traced back to the individual consumer", Ryanair claimed.

Aer Lingus said it is currently processing an "unprecedented level of requests for vouchers and refunds", warning cancellations were still occurring.

We have expanded our teams along with introducing new processes and technology in an effort to speed up the processing time. To date we have issued over 250,000 vouchers and refunds to customers.

"Flight cancellations are still occurring and we continue to receive an unprecedented number of requests for vouchers and refunds, however, we expect that the additional resources, processes and technology that we have deployed will have a positive effect in improving our processing times. We apologise to customers but thank them for their continued patience as we work to process these requests in an expedited manner," the airline told the Irish Examiner in a statement.

Meanwhile, Ryanair said it welcomed what it called unanimous acceptance of its Irish pilots to accept a 20% pay reduction, restored over four years, as well as agreements on rosters, flexible working patterns and annual leave.

Difficulties contacting people entering Ireland

Compiled by Neil Michael

Gardaí have only been able to contact about half of the people coming into Ireland.

This is according to figures given to the Irish Examiner from the Department of Justice for the number of people who fill out the Covid-19 Passenger Locator Form.

Everyone who enters Ireland has been required by law since May 28 to complete one of these forms or face a fine of up to €2,500 and up to six months' jail.

Up until Jun 28, more than 29,200 of the forms were filled out by passengers arriving at Dublin Airport, and 10,779 were filled out by those arriving via Dublin Port.

A further 2,101 forms were filled out by those entering via Rosslare up to Jun 21 and 1,007 by those entering via Cork Airport up to Jun 17.

But, gardaí, or other agents for the Border Management Unit, were only able to actually contact between 47% and 61% of those who they tried to contact.

A Department of Justice spokesman said: “The period May 28-Jun 28 saw 100% compliance with the requirement to complete the form from incoming passengers. Since early last week, given the increase in passenger numbers, we are only in a position to make 60%-70% of calls."

“The forms are selected randomly. A large cohort from every flight is called.”

They added: “The Border Management Unit of this Department is currently carrying out the follow up calls on behalf of the HSE. But as passenger numbers increase significantly over the coming days, the BMU will need to focus exclusively on their core function of immigrating passengers and HSE will take this over. Forms from ports of entry nationwide are currently sent to Dublin Airport for follow up and then returned to Health/HSE as data controllers.”

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