Etihad Airways will offer Australian passengers a full refund on all flights cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, even if those travellers have already accepted a credit voucher.
The offer will be valid on all Etihad tickets purchased in Australia for any flight on the Etihad network. The airline has confirmed it will contact passengers who booked directly with the airline, as well as with Australian-based travel agents, to outline their options.
From 26 March 2020, Etihad’s published Covid-19 rebooking policy reportedly failed to identify that passengers were entitled to a refund for flights cancelled due to the pandemic.
The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission, which held discussions with Etihad over the issue, says the airline has now revised its policy by offering refunds to all consumers in Australia who purchased tickets, regardless of where their flight was scheduled to depart from.
ACCC Chair Rod Sims says that "Etihad’s revised policy, and its decision to also offer refunds to consumers who weren’t previously advised of their right to a refund, should serve as a model for other airlines."
Etihad’s conditions of carriage, as published on Etihad’s website at the time, provided that if Etihad failed to operate a flight reasonably according to schedule, Etihad would, at the consumer’s option, either:
- provide a refund to the consumer for the unused portion of their fare;
- fly the consumer to their destination on the earliest available Etihad service, without additional charge; or
- make arrangements to re-route the consumer to their destination on either an Etihad service or another carrier’s service within a reasonable period of time, and refund the difference in cost if the alternative transport is cheaper.
"The protections of the Australian Consumer Law, which extend to all corporations carrying on business in Australia, prohibit making false or misleading representations about a consumer’s right to a refund, including their contractual refund rights," Sims said.
“Consumers who believe they are entitled to a refund because they booked their fare while in Australia and who are not contacted by Etihad or their Australian travel agent by 7 August 2020, should contact the business that sold them their ticket.”