Wizz Air has cancelled all Gibraltar flights to Luton for August saying it needs to meet higher demand in other European countries. Minister for Business and Tourism, the Hon Vijay Daryanani MP, said: “We understand Wizz Air’s need to remain flexible to client demands.
These are constantly changing as a result of the uncertainty in respect of changes in rules relating to travel from and to the UK. This has resulted in the opening up of new destinations after the recent announcement that people returning to the UK from amber countries will not have to quarantine. As a result, Wizz have scheduled flights to other European markets for which they are seeing the strongest demand. Gibraltar is already full. All our hotels are already full for the season, our restaurants are experiencing huge demand and we are seeing a regular flow of tourists from the UK.
However, it may come as a surprise to the Gibraltarians who have booked flights to visit the UK, which unlike Gibraltar, is not full.
Earlier this year the airline left passengers stranded in the UK when it repeatedly offered flights to Gibraltar and then cancelled them at the last minute.
As a low cost airline, customer service is one of the first casualties, and although the airline have a call center, its behind a premium UK 900 number which cannot be dialled from Gibraltar and costs over a £1 a minute in the UK.
Similarly its very hard to complain to the airline on email, with them taking months to reply. Passengers who had flights for the beginning of the year report that the airline has refused to make cash refunds Other airlines, Easyjet and BA returned money for cancelled flights. Whizz have converted the money paid to points which can only be used to purchase more flights with the airline.
Wizz Air is registered in Budapest, Hungary and is subject to EU regulations, including the scheme for passengers who are let down claiming compensation.
Gibraltar to Luton counts as a Medium-haul journey and despite Brexit, UK airports are covered by the regulations. The CAA state that an airline is not allowed to leave you high and dry if they cancel a medium-haul flight that you are booked on.
It seems that Wizz Air’s commitment to Gibraltar is not as deep as British Airways which has continued flying here through the pandemic, often with two flights a day.
If they return, there will be a huge credibility gap in their future services to the Rock.
By Jim Watt - Gibraltar