Austrian Airlines has apologised for delays in processing refunds for flights cancelled as a result of Covid-19, and pledged clear the backlog over the next eight weeks.

The carrier said that its service centre had faced “an historic volume of inquiries” as a result of the suspension of flights for almost three months.

Austrian added that “several thousand tickets worth millions are being reimbursed” each week, but admitted that the current situation “is not satisfactory for our passengers”, with only 40 per cent of refund requests having been processed.

“The global coronavirus pandemic has posed unprecedented challenges to the aviation sector, said CCO Andreas Otto.

“Our colleagues in the Service Center are working full steam to process all inquiries and applications. At present millions of euros in refunds are being carried out each week, corresponding to several thousand tickets.”

The airline asked customers who have already submitted reimbursement requests not to call again on the matter, “in order to keep the telephone lines clear for customers who would like to travel in the near future”.

“We are well aware of the fact that the current situation is not satisfactory for our passengers,” said Otto. “That is why we want to apologize for this. Every passenger who applied for a refund will get his or her money back.”

Austrian also said that refunds to travel agencies were “in full swing”, with Otto stating that ““We have increased all available capacities to a maximum level. In the meantime, travel agencies have already been reimbursed for about two-thirds of all their bookings”.

Passengers whose flights were cancelled and who do not want make use of the carrier’s current rebooking options, can apply for a refund online here.

Carriers have recently been stepping up efforts to clear outstanding requests for refunds – Emirates said it has cleared nearly 650,000 refund requests in the last eight weeks, with a further half a million set to be processed with the next two months, while Ryanair pledged to have processed 90 per cent of refund requests for the period March to June by the end of this month.

Ryanair to process 90 per cent of Covid-19 cash refunds by end of July