The chief executive of the low-cost airline said customers should expect a 10 to 12 week wait because they have 35 million refunds to process, compared to the 10,000 a week they usually deal with. It came as a survey by the consumer brand Which? found that Ryanair was the worst major airline for refunding passengers after their flight was cancelled due to the pandemic.
It revealed that 84 percent of Ryanair customers were still waiting for their money back, which under EU law should be reimbursed within seven days.
Only five percent of passengers received their cash back within the legal time frame, according to a poll.
Mr O’Leary said: “The good news is we are about 40 percent of the way through the process and we have already paid out nearly 500million euro (£449million) and we’ve got another 600-700million euro to go, we think we will get through that in the next 10 to 12 weeks.
“We are assuring everyone that your refund is safe, if you want the cash refund you will get it, just be patient because we have to process a record backlog of cancellations caused by government measures and we have limited staff in our offices to process these refunds, but they are on their way.”
The Dublin-based carrier has grounded 99 percent of its fleet during the lockdown but intends to resume 40 percent of its flights from July 1. Meanwhile Virgin Atlantic has announced it plans to restart passenger flights on July 20. The airline will initially operate London Heathrow flights to Orlando, Hong Kong, Shanghai, New York and Los Angeles.
Flights will resume to more destinations in August, with details to be confirmed in the next two weeks.
Virgin Atlantic has only operated cargo flights in recent weeks due to the collapse in demand caused by the coronavirus pandemic.