Published on : Tuesday, April 7, 2020
ABTA has warned that the holiday providers could go bankrupt if forced to offer refunds to travellers, meaning millions of trips could be cancelled. The travel industry body is urging the Government of United Kingdom to introduce temporary changes to rules that govern holiday refunds, by extending the window for refund credit notes as a short-term alternative to cash refunds. The current rules allow passengers to be given a refund within 14 days of their cancelled holidays.
However, with the holidays being cancelled on mass scale, as well as airlines delaying refunds and hotels closing, tour operators are unable to do this.
Mark Tanzer, ABTA Chief Executive, explained that they all knew that the Government has a lot to manage with the current crisis of coronavirus outbreak, but its failure to make these temporary changes to refund rules defies the logic and is leaving the consumer in no-man’s land. The rules around 14-day refunds were never designed for the mass cancellation of holidays, which we’re now seeing as result of Government measures to curb the pandemic.
He warns that the taxpayer could be forced to pick up the £4.5 billion refund bill if changes are not made. He also explained that it is important to reiterate, this is about supporting businesses through an entirely unforeseeable and short-term cashflow crunch – customers will not lose their right to a refund, and their money is not at risk.
The new regulations would follow other countries in Europe who have already introduced temporary changes to regulations on refunds. The European Commission has updated its guidance on the Package Travel Directive (PTD) in relation to customer claims refunds.
Last week, ABTA encouraged customers to accept credit notes, on the condition that the customer can claim a refund in the future if the voucher is not used and that they are protected if the firm goes bust.
The consumers could soon be offered vouchers that last up to two years instead. Some passengers are already being offered credit notes instead of refunds, or face difficulty in getting a refund.
Social media platform has been flooded with complaints claiming budget airlines are dragging their heels over repayments as many look for refunds for their Easter holidays.