RYANAIR passengers are being refused refunds for their cancelled flights until the coronavirus crisis is over and being offered vouchers instead.
Customers are being told that anyone requesting a cash refund will be put in a queue until the pandemic has stopped.
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More than 13.5m passengers flew with Ryanair last April, but the airline has been forced to ground the majority of their flights this year until mid-June due to coronavirus.
Furious passengers are being sent e-mails from the the low-cost airline explaining that they would not be processing refunds until "the Covid-19 crisis has abated".
The airline explained: "As our payment agents are required to stay at home in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, payment security restrictions prevent us from processing cash refunds."
Passengers are being urged to accept vouchers instead.
If not, they will be placed in a "cash refund queue" until the pandemic has passed.
Sun Online Travel contacted Ryanair for comment.
Joe Rinaldi wrote: "What nonsense is this? @Ryanair - four weeks after I’ve already requested a refund, you’re telling me I’m not entitled to my own money?"
Another woman added: "They cancelled our flights to Tenerife obvs and gave the choice of a refund or change. Took refund and now they’ve sent vouchers. If you refuse and ask for a refund (again) they won’t pay until the Covid emergency is over."
One Twitter user said: "How is it fair that after 4 weeks since submitting for a refund, you ask me to take a voucher instead, and then say no refunds are being processed until after COVID-19 is over. An absolute joke!"
The airline has been forced to ground 90 per cent of their fleet, with a limited schedule running between London airports and Ireland.
The reduced service also includes flights to Amsterdam, Lisbon, Brussels and Berlin, although these are mainly for passengers trying to return to the UK.
However, Airlines UK, which has members including British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair, has begged the government to allow them to keep passenger's money until the crisis has passed.
In a letter seen by Sky News, they asked: "Carriers should also be permitted to issue vouchers instead of refunds and, should refunds be required, carriers should be permitted to defer payment until the crisis period is over and as defined by air traffic volumes, rather than time period."
Passengers who have their flights cancelled are allowed to claim a refund under EU law EC261.
ABTA has also warned that holiday providers could go bankrupt if forced to offer refunds to travellers, meaning millions of trips could be cancelled.
Mark Tanzer, ABTA Chief Executive, explained: "We know the Government has a lot to manage with the current crisis, but its failure to make these temporary changes to refund rules defies logic and is leaving the consumer in no-man’s land.
"The rules around 14-day refunds were never designed for the mass cancellation of holidays, which we’re now seeing as result of Government measures to contain the pandemic."
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He warns that the taxpayer could be forced to pick up the £4.5 billion refund bill if changes are not made.
He continued: "It’s important to reiterate, this is about supporting businesses through an entirely unforeseeable and short-term cashflow crunch - customers will not lose their right to a refund, and their money is not at risk."
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