Published on Friday, July 31, 2020

'We will do everything in our power to earn back the trust of our customers'

Virgin Atlantic has responded to the stinging criticism from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) over its handling of customer refunds, saying it knows it must do better.

Investigations by the CAA found Virgin was initially taking 60 days to hand money back to passengers. But its performance grew 'significantly worse', with refunds blowing out to 120 days, as the crisis went on.

The airline's Chief Customer Officer Corneel Koster said: "Despite the incredible efforts of our teams, we know we have not lived up to the high standards we set ourselves, but we will do everything in our power to earn back the trust of our customers."

He explained: "The huge volume of refund requests we have received, combined with the constraints on our teams and systems during the pandemic, has meant that refunds have been taking longer than usual to process, and we sincerely apologise for this.

"Since April, we have been focussed on making improvements wherever possible. We've boosted the size of the team dedicated to processing refunds five-fold, with over 200 people now directly involved. This has increased our capacity to process a greater number of refunds, more quickly and we continue to minimise the wait time for existing refund requests.

"Thanks to the progress made, we are steadily reducing the maximum processing time for each new Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays cash refund. For customers requesting a refund in August, we expect the maximum processing time to be 80 days, from the date the refund is requested. For those requesting a refund in September, we expect it to take a maximum of 60 days, and then reduce to 30 days for refunds requested in October, before returning to normal levels.

"We recognise the importance of every single refund and anyone who has requested one for a cancelled flight or holiday will be paid in full and we thank all customers for their patience. The scale of refunds has been unlike anything we've ever seen, following three months where, as a result of global travel restrictions, we cancelled all scheduled passenger flights. All Virgin Holidays remain cancelled up to and including 31 August.

"Since 20 July, we have restarted passenger flying but our schedule remains limited to a selection of core routes and we're continually reviewing the flying programme. We also continue to receive an average of 1,000 refund requests per day, continuing to drive unprecedented workload for our teams."

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