Iata has confirmed it will allow airlines to issue vouchers in lieu of cash refunds for cancelled flights in an open letter to the travel trade from general secretary Alexandre de Juniac.
The move comes as a blow for travel businesses struggling with cash flow amid unprecedented demand for refunds owing to cancellations arising from the coronavirus pandemic, with Iata acknowledging there was far more cash exiting than coming into industry financial settlement systems.
Vouchers will be issued through Iata’s billing and settlement plan (BSP). “I’m afraid the message I have to deliver is not one that will provide comfort,” said de Juniac, addressing the trade late last week.
Iata has, however, backed calls for governments around the world to relax requirements for immediate or prompt refunds, which in the UK are enshrined in the Package Travel Regulations.
Abta on Tuesday (7 April) launched a new Save Future Travel campaign calling on travel businesses across the UK to write to their local MP setting out the impact of the PTRs on their cash flow in a scenario the regulations simply weren’t designed to accommodate.
Tuesday also saw The Travel Network Group lend its voice to these calls, urging business secretary Alok Sharma to take swift action to ease the burden on agents.