“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.”
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.
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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.
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.