Air NZ urged to extend its refund policy

Consumer New Zealand wants Air New Zealand to be fairer to customers about its travel credit and refund policy.

The first quarantine-free flight, NZ103, which took off from Auckland for Sydney on 16 October.

Photo: Supplied / Air New Zealand

Since Covid-19 hit, the airline has held tens of millions of dollars in credits for 2020 bookings.

The airline gave refunds to some travellers, but the vast majority were unable to get paid out, instead holding a credit – that is currently under review.

Consumer New Zealand’s chief executive Jon Duffy told Nine to Noon travellers need some fairness.

“It needs to expand its existing hardship policy for refunds to either give everybody who wants a refund – a refund – or at the very least extend those hardship provisions to people who can legitimately make an argument that their circumstances have changed,” he said.

Duffy said current laws do not require airlines to refund customers when events, such as a global pandemic, are beyond the control of the carrier. He said MBIE and the NZTA is reviewing the law.

Duffy said travellers need clarity on the refund and credit policy now.

“When there’s a lack of communication and a lack of clarity that goodwill gets eroded – and it would be a shame to see Air New Zealand take a backward step from the goodwill that it has rebuilt from the lows of April and May last year,” he said.

Duffy said at the very least, Air New Zealand should extend its hardship provisions for customers who can make a legitimate argument that their circumstances have changed to the extent where a refund is the best option for both parties.

In a statement, Air New Zealand said it has refunded tens of thousands of passengers on a compassionate basis between July 2020 and January this year.

It adds there is still a lot of uncertainty and it is impossible to predict when borders might open.

“We recognise that changing circumstances paired with other things needing to line up, whether that’s flights, pre-departure testing or managed isolation can make things tricky.

“We’re continuing to assess and evolve our fare flexibility offering and look forward to being able to share further detail on this soon,” chief customer and sales officer Leanne Geraghty said.

“Customers who are experiencing changes in circumstances or hardship can still apply for compassionate consideration.”

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