Travel agents and their clients are owed millions of euros by airline Ryanair, according to the Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA).
ITAA chief executive Pat Dawson has disputed claims by Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary that everyone due a refund because of cancelled flights amid the Covid-19 pandemic has received one.
Speaking on RTÉ radio’s News at One, Mr Dawson said that one small travel agent in Munster was owed €60,000 by Ryanair, while another travel agent who specialises in school tours was awaiting €500,000 in refunds and a third travel agent was waiting for refunds for 1,400 customers.
In a statement on Monday, the ITAA said its members were currently owed some €20 million in refund payments from Ryanair.
“The spin might be that, but it's not the truth,” added Mr Dawson of the claim that all refunds had been paid.
“We'd like to work with Ryanair, we'd like to hear the truth coming out of them, but the facts are there and we've notified the Commissioner of Aviation and they have a listing there, they don't seem to be progressing anywhere.
“There's really no law or sanctions really in this country to force airlines to pay up the money that's due to customers,” said Mr Dawson.
“These were direct bookings made by our members, paid by our members' credit cards, so there is no reason to say that there is a delay.”
Mr Dawson said travel agents had been asked by Ryanair to submit clients’ details so that the client could be refunded. “It's happening slowly, but to say that everything it refunded is not true.”
Some of the bookings were groups, but the vast majority were individual bookings, he said.
“Ryanair were doing business with travel agents for over 20 years, the fact is the Government saved Ryanair from going bust,” Mr Dawson added. “The customer is the collateral damage here — that is the sad point about it.”
Mr Dawson said that from looking at social media, there appeared to be hundreds of customers all over Europe still waiting for their refunds.
Some customers had gotten their money back, he said. “But they put us through the wringer, they now don't want our business and they've said that, but they wanted us for 20 years.”
The ITAA are asking Ryanair to be honest and truthful with the public
“We ask our customers to be patient with us. We are securing refunds but it is taking time.”
In a statement on Monday, the ITTAA, which represents over 100 travel agent members and 70 affiliate partners, said: “All ITAA member travel agents continue to have problems with accessing flight refunds from Ryanair.
“The ITAA are asking Ryanair to be honest and truthful with the public with regards to refunds, to ensure that affected customers are reimbursed for disrupted or cancelled flights.
“Travel agents have sent in thousands of claims to Ryanair in order to refund their customers with affected flight bookings, with the airline withholding refunds to travel agents and customers alike.”