Air New Zealand legally allowed to refuse refunds, although should come to the party - Consumer NZ CEO

coronavirus 23/04/2020

Jon Duffy, Consumer CEO, speaks with Peter Williams to detail the legalities around Air New Zealand's call to credit their costumers following mass travel restrictions due to COVID-19.

Duffy confirms that Air New Zealand has the legal right to decline refund requests due to a variety of reasons.

"The Consumer Guarantees Act has some relevance here but also the Civil Aviation Act."

"There's a bit of a difference if we're talking about a refund for tickets where the consumer has decided that they don't want to travel anymore or situations where something like the global pandemic has happened where the flights actually don't exist anymore."

"Where it's the consumer choice, and they've decided to change their plans, the terms of the ticket apply."

You can buy a fully refundable ticket. If you've done that, you're entitled to a refund. If you've bought a non-refundable ticket, then similarly, the terms of that contract apply and you're not entitled to a refund.

"Now where there's something like COVID-19, and it's beyond the control of the airlines, particularly when it comes to international flights, the Civil Aviation Act steps in and it incorporates an international treaty that New Zealand signed up to called the Montreal Convention."

If it's beyond the control of the airline, they don't need to account for damages that may have occurred, including the cost of the ticket.

For the full interview, listen to the audio above.