Ryanair refused her request for a refund, it is claimed (Image: Getty Images)

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A woman who claims Ryanair refused her a refund for a flight she could not legally take due to lockdown has branded the airline as "diabolical".

Louise Antoine, 58, said she booked to go away with husband Julian Antoine, 47, before the pandemic struck last year.

Their flight to Tenerife, from Manchester, was scheduled for November 17.

But a national lockdown was enforced on November 5 – meaning they had to stay at home.

Company director Louise claims she then tried to get her money back but was refused – as she was told the aircraft was still flying.

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Louise Antoine, pictured, said she will be boycotting Ryanair from now on
(Image: Louise Antoine)

Her story comes as a watchdog investigation of the refusal of refunds by airlines was announced on Wednesday.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it had opened "enforcement cases" and written to Ryanair and British Airways.

A statement said that CMA is "concerned that, by failing to offer people their money back, both firms may have breached consumer law and left people unfairly out of pocket".

The probe only relates to flights people could legally take and it should not be assumed the airlines have broken the law, the CMA added.

Louise said of the investigation: "I think it's about time, quite honestly.

"The government are saying it's okay to travel to go to the 'green list' countries but pulling the plug at the last minute.

Louise and Julian had hoped to travel to Tenerife
(Image: Getty Images/Collection Mix: Subjects RF)

"I'm pleased, but it's a problem they have created – and we are left to foot the bill.

"I think what Ryanair have done is immoral. It's diabolical.

"They have taken bookings in good faith, they have taken people's money – but they are refusing to give it back.

"[The situation] is nobody's fault, but they can afford it more than we can."

Louise, from Manchester, told the Mirror she lost £307 after she couldn't board her flight.

She had booked the trip on March 6, 2020, when around 3,300 people – mostly in China – had died from Covid.

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"I contacted Ryanair," Louise claims. "I knew what they were going to say, but I thought I would ask anyway.

"They said 'no, you can't have your money back but you can change your flight'.

"That was £114 per person – £57 each, each way. I did even apply for the taxes back but they refused that too.

"So, somebody somewhere has got my money but hasn't provided me with the service."

Louise added that she believed Ryanair would have a "profit margin" which meant flying empty planes was still cost-effective.

And she said: "I can't see many essential workers going to Tenerife, you know what I'm saying?

Ryanair said that it "welcomed" the investigation
(Image: AFP via Getty Images)

"I'm 100 per cent sure there's nobody on those planes. I think it's a way to get around giving money back.

"But this investigation might say otherwise.

"I've now made a conscious decision never to fly with Ryanair again on principle even if they're the cheapest airline."

Launching the CMA probe, chief executive Andrea Coscelli said: "While we understand that airlines have had a tough time during the pandemic, people should not be left unfairly out of pocket for following the law.

"Customers booked these flights in good faith and were legally unable to take them due to circumstances entirely outside of their control.

"We believe these people should have been offered their money back."

Ryanair said that it "welcomed" the investigation in a statement.

It added: "Ryanair has approached such refund requests on a case by case basis and has paid refunds in justified cases.

"Since June 2020, all our customers have also had the ability to rebook their flights without paying a change fee and millions of our UK customers have availed of this option."

Ryanair has been approached for comment on Louise's claims.