Italy’s competition regulator announced that it has dropped its anti-trust investigation against four major discount air carriers after the companies agreed to change their policies regarding refunds on flights cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Last month, the Authority of the Guarantee of Competition and Markets said it broadened an older investigation to include discount air carriers Blue Panorama, Easyjet, Ryanair, and Vueling based on consumer complaints that they would only issue flight vouchers for cancelled flights rather than full refunds, Xinhua news agency reported.
On Friday, the regulator said the airlines agreed to allow would-be travellers, who could not travel because their flights were cancelled flights, to decide between a voucher and a cash refund.
The authority said it would continue to look into other competition-related aspects of the companies’ operations.
Additionally, Friday’s decision did not have an impact on the original probe into Italian flagship air carrier Alitalia and regional discount carrier Volotea, which preceded the widened investigation.
The developments come as Europe’s airline industry is reeling in the wake of the pandemic, which is now in the midst of the second wave.
During the first wave that started in spring, almost all European flights were cancelled as countries imposed national coronavirus lockdowns, and travel between Europe and major markets such as the US, China, and Brazil remain restricted.
Even within Europe, flights are usually run at less than half capacity, while demand for flights is reduced because of coronavirus fears.