Wizz Air investigation as airline accused of breaching customer protection laws | Travel News | Travel

Wizz Air investigation as airline accused of breaching customer protection laws | Travel News | Travel

Wizz Air plane

Wizz Air is under investigation by the government (Image: Getty Images)

The Hungarian Ministry of Justice is investigating the budget airline over possible breaches of consumer protection laws. It comes days after Wizz Air announced it would be suspending nearly all its routes from Cardiff this winter.

The company has been accused of failing to provide information and assistance to customers affected by delayed or cancelled flights.

According to state media, the Hungarian government will also look into reports that the airline failed to provide accommodation or rebook flights for affected passengers, as well as failing to respond to consumer complaints within 30 days, reports Wales Online.

The probe is the second of its kind to be launched against an airline by the ministry in recent weeks.

The nationalist Hungarian government, led by Prime Minister Viktor Orban, has promised to “detect, stop, and sanction any possible illegal behaviour” by airlines and other industries.

Earlier this summer the government imposed a windfall tax on airlines, claiming that they had enjoyed “excess profits” from a surge in demand following the coronavirus pandemic.

This claim was widely disputed by the airlines themselves who said the pandemic had actually led them to report record losses.

To compensate for the tax Ryanair raised its ticket prices, leading the Hungarian government to accuse the budget airline of breaching consumer protection laws and fine it more than £635,000.

Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary had previously referred to the tax as “highway robbery” and called on the government to overturn it.

The probe also comes less than two weeks after Wizz Air confirmed it would be cancelling most of its flights from Cardiff Airport for six months.

The airline made the announcement that it will significantly reduce its flight schedule from September 19 due to what it has called “macro-economic pressures”.

The news affects most flights due to take off from Cardiff Airport during the winter with the airline no longer flying to Alicante, Corfu, Heraklion, Faro, Larnaca, Lanzarote, Palma de Mallorca, Sharm el-Sheikh, or Tenerife.

However the site in Rhoose will see flights travel to two destinations, Milan and Bucharest, over the six-month period.

It has been a torrid summer for the airline at Cardiff Airport with passengers left stranded abroad for days and waiting at the airport for hours for flights that never took off.

Some have even had to fork out hundreds for taxis home after being left stranded at Bristol Airport after their flight to Cardiff was diverted and later cancelled.

Wizz Air only launched its base at Cardiff Airport in April this year with airport bosses welcoming what it called “Europe’s fastest-growing and most sustainable airline” in a move that represented “a real turning point for the airport in its post-Covid revival plan”.

At the time the airline’s managing director, Marion Geoffroy, said it was a “very exciting time for Wizz Air in the UK” adding that the airline would “provide a significant boost to the Welsh economy”.

However, just four months on, Ms Geoffroy spoke of her disappointment at having to suspend the routes.

She apologised to customers, adding that it would not be “commercially viable” to continue the routes over the winter period.

“We are very disappointed to have to suspend several routes from Cardiff Airport for the winter season,” she said.

“Though these routes have proved popular through the summer season it would not be commercially viable to continue to operate them through this coming winter due to the challenging macro-economic environment. This leaves us with no option but to pause these routes until next spring.”

She added: “We are deeply sorry for the inconvenience this will cause customers who already booked flights with us.

“We are in touch with all affected customers to explain their options.”

A spokesman for Wizz Air said: “Wizz Air is aware of the investigation and is engaging fully with the Hungarian Consumer Protection Authority.

“As this is subject to investigation Wizz Air cannot comment further.”

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Author: Shirley