SHARE
COPY LINK

FLIGHTS

Germany’s Lufthansa needs ‘four to six’ more weeks to process flight refunds

Pandemic-hit Lufthansa says it will need "another four to six weeks" to process refunds for flights cancelled through the end of June.

Germany's Lufthansa needs 'four to six' more weeks to process flight refunds
Photo: DPA

“To date, we have already paid out around €1.4 billion,” said Lufthansa board member Harry Hohmeister in an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) on Sunday.

However, the company is seeking to speed up ticket reimbursements for cancelled flights.

“Within the next 10 to 14 days, we want to switch the automated processes back on,” Hohmeister said. “Then large triple-digit million amounts will be paid out each month.”

READ ALSO: Customers facing long waits for refunds over cancelled flights in Germany

According to the Lufthansa Executive Board, the airline has received more than two million reimbursement requests since March, when air traffic largely came to a halt due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In mid-June Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr promised to quickly clear the reimbursement backlog, stating that refunds would be paid out in six weeks. According to EU law, airlines must refund the ticket price of a cancelled flight within seven days.

In the meantime, customers complained that the the company's reimbursement hotline could only sparsely be reached, and emails remained unanswered.

One of our readers, Adriane, said that she has been trying to receive a refund for a booking she made on March 14th through Lufthansa after being told by the company's customer service she would qualify for one.

“There were some emails back and forth but no one ever wrote saying I would get the refund and when. They just kept giving ridiculous excuses,” said Adriane, who has turned to a Facebook group where other customers have voiced their complaints about the delays.

What are customers entitled to?

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, thousands of flights were cancelled, particularly from March through May.

Air traffic began to pick up again in June, as the EU lifted its travel warning for trips within the continent and airlines such as Lufthansa announced new summer flight schedules.

Lufthansa and other airlines had initially relied on offering customers vouchers for cancelled flights. This was called out by the EU Commission which says that people are entitled to refunds if they want them.

READ ALSO: Explained: What are your rights for cancelled flights in Germany?

Travel organisations also called on the Group to reimburse the cancelled trips immediately after it received a massive €9 billion bailout from the German government in June.

The Internet Travel Association (Internet Reisevertrieb or VIR), demanded that Lufthansa reactivate the automatic reimbursement option in the professional booking systems (GDS), which had been switched off.

On Wednesday a company spokesperson said this would be done, without specifying a date.

Are you still waiting on a refund from Lufthansa, or another airline, following a cancelled flight in Germany? Tell us about your experience in the comments.

Member comments

  1. My family‘s flight to Greece in May was cancelled and we requested to get a voucher as we go to Greece annually. Once we received the voucher, I tried to book for the following April but when I got to the option of using our vouchers, our vouchers were invalid. The prices at this time were about the same so I was eager to buy them when I received our vouchers via email. I contacted Lufthansa via email on 3 separate occasions to figure out how this can be handled but I only ever got an automatic message in return. Now 2 months later, the flights are double what they were when I tried to rebook in May. Still waiting to hear back from Lufthansa.

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

ECONOMY

German consumer prices set to rise steeply amid war in Ukraine

Russia's war in Ukraine is slowing down the economy and accelerating inflation in Germany, the Ifo Institute has claimed.

German consumer prices set to rise steeply amid war in Ukraine

According to the Munich-based economics institute, inflation is expected to rise from 5.1 to 6.1 percent in March. This would be the steepest rise in consumer prices since 1982.

Over the past few months, consumers in Germany have already had to battle with huge hikes in energy costs, fuel prices and increases in the price of other everyday commodities.

READ ALSO:

With Russia and Ukraine representing major suppliers of wheat and grain, further price rises in the food market are also expected, putting an additional strain on tight incomes. 

At the same time, the ongoing conflict is set to put a dampener on the country’s annual growth forecasts. 

“We only expect growth of between 2.2 and 3.1 percent this year,” Ifo’s head of economic research Timo Wollmershäuser said on Wednesday. 

Due to the increase in the cost of living, consumers in Germany could lose around €6 billion in purchasing power by the end of March alone.

With public life in Germany returning to normal and manufacturers’ order books filling up, a significant rebound in the economy was expected this year. 

But the war “is dampening the economy through significantly higher commodity prices, sanctions, increasing supply bottlenecks for raw materials and intermediate products as well as increased economic uncertainty”, Wollmershäuser said.

Because of the current uncertainly, the Ifo Institute calculated two separate forecasts for the upcoming year.

In the optimistic scenario, the price of oil falls gradually from the current €101 per barrel to €82 by the end of the year, and the price of natural gas falls in parallel.

In the pessimistic scenario, the oil price rises to €140 per barrel by May and only then falls to €122 by the end of the year.

Energy costs have a particularly strong impact on private consumer spending.

They could rise between 3.7 and 5 percent, depending on the developments in Ukraine, sanctions on Russia and the German government’s ability to source its energy. 

On Wednesday, German media reported that the government was in the process of thrashing out an additional set of measures designed to support consumers with their rising energy costs.

The hotly debated measures are expected to be finalised on Wednesday evening and could include increased subsidies, a mobility allowance, a fuel rebate and a child bonus for families. 

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: Germany’s proposals for future energy price relief

In one piece of positive news, the number of unemployed people in Germany should fall to below 2.3 million, according to the Ifo Institute.

However, short-time work, known as Kurzarbeit in German, is likely to increase significantly in the pessimistic scenario.

SHOW COMMENTS