Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, airlines were put in a tough position: with almost all flights virtually being canceled and airplanes having to stay grounded for months, many went bankrupt or had to ask their respective governments for money in order to stay afloat.
While a few airlines were able to process refunds quickly, many other airlines had difficulties, with customers claiming to have to jump through hoops before they could cash out their canceled or rescheduled flights.
Multiple airlines, including Norwegian Air Shuttle, might now have to pay the price for their delays. Bursor & Fisher, a New York-based law firm, is leading a class-action lawsuit against the airline over its actions during the coronavirus crisis. As first reported by the Norwegian news outlet, Bergens Tidende, the lawsuit states that Norwegian Airlines failed to refund customers whose flights have been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In fact, it is estimated that the airline owes customers somewhere between $200 million and $400 million in refunds, according to Bergens Tidende. Norwegian Airlines has until June 22 to provide a response to the lawsuit.
However, Norwegian isn’t the only airline in hot water. Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) is also reported to owe customers around $725 million. The company noted that flights that were canceled in March will be reimbursed in June, while the ones that were canceled in April and May will be compensated in September.
John Eckhoff, Press Manager for SAS, assured customers that they will receive a refund. Although SAS was granted $340 million in government aid from Sweden and Denmark, the airline is currently working on a plan to raise more capital.
In the European Union, Norway, and the U.S., airlines are required to refund passengers for canceled flights within seven days. Although Norwegian Airlines declined to comment, the airline’s Press Manager, Andreas Hjornholm, previously said that they were “sorry for the delay in making refunds, assuring that those who asked for and were entitled to a refund would get one.”
Despite the setbacks, Norwegian Chief Executive Officer Jacob Schram is optimistic:
“There is no doubt that air traffic will bounce back and we will be perfectly positioned strategically and geographically to take advantage of this.”