Wizz Air pays out £1.24m in refunds to comply with CAA obligations over flight disruption

Enforcement action by the Civil Aviation Authority against Wizz Air has led to £1.24 million being refunded to passengers.

More than 25,000 claims were re-examined and additional payments given in around 6,000 cases, according to the aviation regulator.

Wizz  Air claimed £90 million had been invested to improve its operations after the CAA took unprecedented enforcement action against the airline last year for falsely refusing passenger compensation claims for flight disruption.

The airline co-operated with the action and has now completed its review of claims.

The CAA ordered the eastern and central European budget carrier to re-look at a string of claims made since March 2022, meaning passengers who had claims incorrectly rejected “will now receive the money they are legally owed.”

The CAA said at the time that it had “significant concerns” about the number of complaints from customers who believed Wizz Air had failed to meet its legal obligations in ensuring they reached their destination after a cancellation.

The undertakings required Wizz Air to make changes to its policies to ensure that in future it consistently complies with its re-routing and care obligations.

Wizz Air was also required by the CAA to review previously assessed claims it received for replacement flight costs, transfers when replacement flights were via different airports, and care and assistance – typically hotel costs – following flight disruption.

Wizz Air announced today (Wednesday) that it had fully complied with a deed of undertaking signed with the CAA last year following disruption to its service in summer 2022.

The airline said it had spent £90 million to improve its performance and operations in 2023, resulting in a flight completion rate of 99.24%. 

Furthermore, 90% of refunds are now processed within five days. 

The airline also said it has now identified and paid “all known” County Court Judgements (CCJs).

Wizz Air said: “The UK Civil Aviation Authority has now finalised its review of claims and is satisfied the airline is compliant.”

The carrier made several commitments regarding the handling of claims for costs incurred following flight disruption after the regulator stepped in last year. 

The CAA conducted checks on a random sample of claims and  confirmed that Wizz Air is fully compliant with the agreement, according to the carrier.

Action taken by the airline included launching a fully automated refund process leading to 90% of claims being completed this way last year compared to 20% in 2022, allowing call centre agents to spend more time on “complex cases” in order to resolve them faster

Four new contact centres were contracted for “increased customer service capacity” while customer service agent training was increased to drive efficiency and quality of service

The airline also worked with ground handling providers to increase number of staff at airports.

Wizz Air said it co-operated throughout the process and the CAA does not intend to review any further claims. The CAA found no additional errors from the claims proactively re-visited by Wizz Air.

CAA consumer director Paul Smith said: “This is good news for passengers and our concerns have been validated by the outcome of our actions.

“While we welcome the steps taken by Wizz Air after falling short in its treatment of disrupted passengers, airlines should routinely look after passengers and uphold their rights when flights are delayed and cancelled.

“Passengers have every right to expect their claims to be resolved quickly, efficiently and in line with the regulations. These outcomes will now provide Wizz Air’s passengers with a better experience.”

Wizz Air UK managing director Marion Geoffroy said: “We are pleased the Civil Aviation Authority has recognised the significant steps Wizz Air has taken to improve performance for our customers.

“Like all airlines in Europe, we faced unprecedented operating challenges in the summer of 2022 but the improvements we put in place have led to a better customer experience and our performance in 2023 was among the strongest in the industry. 

“We are seeing a significant uptick in our customer satisfaction scores and we remain fully committed to continuing to improve our operations in 2024 and beyond.”

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