Abta is to push for financial protection of refund credit notes (RCNs) to be extended until the end of March as the latest lockdown looks set to further delay a potential revival in travel.
The CAA made the decision to extend Atol protection for RCNs to 31 January 2021 just three days before Christmas.
But John de Vial, Abta’s director of financial protection and financial services, told the Elman Wall webinar that the association would now be pushing for the financial protection of RCNs to be extended for another two months to 31 March.
“The RCNs regime has been absolutely critical for businesses to retain customer pre-payments,” said de Vial.
“There’s now more and more concern around Easter and early summer, and it’s more and more likely that we will need the RCN regime moved out beyond (31 January).
“We will be putting new energy into discussions with the Air Travel Trust trustees and the CAA to renew that. We will continue to press them to extend it to the end of March. There’s a lot of work to be done there and we need to continue to be focused on that.”
Financial protection for RCNs originally applied to those issued between 10 March 2020 and 30 September 2020. This was later extended to 31 December due to the continued impact of the pandemic on travel and then late last month to 31 January.
Industry lawyer Joanna Kolatsis, from Themis Advisory, warned that consumers may be “losing patience” with RCNs after having their holidays changed several times because of the pandemic.
“People are losing patience and saying I will take my money back and book later,” she told the webinar. “That’s going to affect RCNs. We’ve got a perfect storm with the end of lockdown and RCNs validity coming to an end.”
Kolatsis urged the travel trade to “start to think” of what they should do for clients who are no longer willing to continue pushing their bookings to later dates through RCNs.