Italy fines Ryanair $5.12 million for not refunding flight tickets cancelled due to Covid-19 emergency

Italy’s antitrust authority fined Ryanair $5.12 million for not refunding customers for flights cancelled after June 2020 due to the COVID-19 emergency, the watchdog said on Monday.

The regulator added that the Irish airline had a “seriously unfair conduct” in cancelling planned flights, using the pandemic as the reason, and giving passengers vouchers rather than paying them back the price of their tickets.

In past days, the authority had also fined British carrier EasyJet and Spanish airline Volotea for the same reason.

The fines come as the travel industry tries to get back on its feet in the summer season of 2021.

Tourism and travel was one of the sectors most heavily affected by the coronavirus pandemic and the worldwide lockdowns that ensued.

EU countries officially agreed on 20 May to welcome foreign travelers who had received one of the coronavirus vaccines approved by European regulators.

That was expected to trigger a rise in the number of scheduled flights in EU countries and, at least in theory, fewer cancellations for customers.

“We know that consumers want to be able to travel this summer and so we welcome that European countries could enable those who are vaccinated could travel without the need for testing,” spokesperson for easyJet said.