Berlin – Lufthansa faces criticism from the Ministry of Economic Affairs over pending ticket refunds during the Corona crisis.
It is incomprehensible that Lufthansa, despite massive state aid, has not yet fulfilled its legal obligations and is not reimbursing its customers immediately, “State Secretary for Economic Affairs Ulrich Nussbaum told” Spiegel “( online). It was a “matter of trust”. During the negotiations on the Lufthansa aid package, people said that the federal government was “very important” with the issue.
After the massive flight cancellations during the Corona crisis, many consumers are still waiting weeks and months for legally binding refunds for their tickets. Companies actually have to reimburse the ticket price within seven days. Consumer advocates and aviation rights portals agree that airlines, with few exceptions, have deliberately delayed payments. Sections of the opposition are calling on government agencies to take tough action against airlines that are unwilling to pay.
When it comes to refunds, there are criticisms at Lufthansa, especially in the context that the airline had to be saved by the state with billions. Together with State Secretary for Finance Jörg Kukies, Nussbaum was in charge of the negotiations on the Lufthansa package.
“We are in excellent contact with the German federal government regarding refunds,” a spokeswoman for Lufthansa said at the weekend in response to Nussbaum’s statements. In total, more than 2 billion euros were paid to the entire Lufthansa group in 2020. The flights in March and April have already been largely covered. Less than a billion euros in reimbursements are still unpaid.
From the experience of Heinz Klewe, Managing Director of the Public Transport Arbitration Commission (SÖP), consumers understand that the seven-day deadline cannot be met given the effects of the crown. But: “You get very angry if you do not receive any information or if the announced repayment deadline is postponed from one month to another.”
The SÖP alone received more than 6,800 complaints in July, the vast majority (86%) of which concerned thefts. There were also complaints about train tickets. In June, the total number was 5500, in July 2019 – without corona effect – around 2200. SÖP numbers are available from the German press agency. The “Welt am Sonntag” had already reported on this.
This year, the number of complaints to the SÖP regarding thefts at the end of July was over 18,000. Compared to the same period of the previous year, this corresponds to an increase of approximately 50%. By the end of July 2020, nearly 3,200 complaints had been received regarding train tickets. Here, the percentage increase was a bit smaller.
Due to the corona pandemic, air traffic almost completely collapsed in mid-March and thousands of flights were canceled. Lufthansa and other companies initially relied on accepting customers with vouchers. However, this failed because of the European Commission. At the beginning of July, a law was passed in the Bundestag on how these vouchers should be designed. But no one has to accept it, consumers can still get their money back.
© dpa-infocom, dpa: 200808-99-92380 / 4