Wizz Air UK, the offshoot of Wizz Air in Hungary claimed it has no presence in the United Kingdom after a court ruling. The court decided that the airline has to pay for flight cancellations. However, it refused to do so. As it turns out, this is not the first such occasion. The airline did not even reply to the court, so the case had been won by the plaintiff.
Daily Mail reports an interesting case with Wizz Air UK. A passenger sued the company after a flight cancellation which happened with just 3 hours notice. The company did not offer seats on another flight, so the passenger turned to the court as they had to book a flight at a different airline. The court decided in favour of the plaintiff. It awarded a judgment against the airline for about 1,500 pounds (EUR 1,730). The company ignored the claim and said it has no presence in the UK.
Ignoring the court
Ignoring a court decision is very unusual so Tony Hetherington at Daily Mail decided to dig deeper. It was first thought that the bailiffs might have made a mistake, but it turns out they did not. There have been 456 county court judgements against Wizz Air UK. The company only managed to pay 55 of these. There can be two options and one is worse than the other. Wizz Air UK either has no liquidity to pay up or it is just refusing to obey court rulings. Questions were asked, but none of them had been answered properly so far.
No presence in the UK
Wizz Air UK claims it has no presence in the United Kingdom. The company was set up in 2017 as an offshoot of Wizz Air in Hungary. The parent company is Wizz Air Holding, which is seated in Jersey, a UK crown dependency. The shares of the company are being traded on the London Stock Exchange. The bailiffs told the passenger that Wizz Air has no staff, offices or assets in London Luton Airport.
Wizz Air Holdings has 170 Airbus aircraft in total out of which 17 belong to Wizz Air UK. Despite not having any presence in the UK, the airline manages to get publicity in the country. Figures released by the Civil Aviation Authority show that it is the worst airline in terms of departure delays. It also made headlines, when it encouraged its employees to work even fatigued so it does not have to cancel flights.
It will be interesting to see what actions the Civil Aviation Authority will take against Wizz Air UK. The company has been flying in and out of UK airports, operating as a British business, while it also ignored British courts.
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Here is the official reaction of Wizz Air on the issue
“The claims made in last week’s article about the number of unsettled County Court Judgments are inaccurate. While we regret that there are a number of outstanding claims against our company – and we are working to resolve all of these as quickly as we can – there are nowhere near the numbers being alleged.
Online court records are not up-to-date and present a misleading picture. More than a quarter of the claims shown as outstanding have already been satisfied; another 20 per cent unfortunately never reached us for processing. It is never our policy to ignore court judgments in any jurisdiction we operate in, and all outstanding claims are being dealt with as a priority by our Customer Services team, which is currently working through a backlog of claims caused by pandemic and post-pandemic travel disruption. We will apply to the Courts to ensure that records are updated appropriately.
Wizz Air UK is a registered company in England and a subsidiary of Wizz Air Group. Our UK office is located at London Luton Airport – we would not inform third parties that we have no presence in the UK given that this information is easily accessible online. We are one of the few airlines that has an investment grade balance sheet and have one of the strongest liquidity positions in the industry.
We sincerely apologise to J.F. and C.G. for the delay in receiving their refund. The passengers have now been contacted and their claim will be settled. The refund was initially delayed because the booking was made via an online travel agent which should have received the refund from Wizz Air and passed it on to the passenger. The online travel agency has now made contact with us and we are able to satisfy the claim.”
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