Whilst major UK airlines are now offering refunds, the BTA has noted that many major overseas carriers are continuing to refuse to do so, even where flights have been cancelled as a result of government advice or action. This is in contravention of IATA ruling 824r.
These airlines are instead offering vouchers which prevent the BTA’s member travel management companies (TMCs) from refunding their corporate traveller customers, and the companies for whom they work, from recovering the money that they have paid. These travel vouchers are often valid for up to one year and will be lost if not used within that timeframe.
The BTA is therefore calling on all airlines to offer cash refunds rather than vouchers, and to do so via the quickest means possible.
This will enable TMCs to reimburse their clients and ensure that corporate travellers and their companies are not unfairly penalised at a time when all businesses are facing up to the challenges of COVID-19.
Clive Wratten, the CEO of the BTA, says: “We understand that these are very challenging times for the airline industry, but those difficulties are also being faced by other parts of the business travel supply chain and, indeed, across the wider business community.”
“The business travel industry will play a vital role in the UK’s economic recovery but, for that to happen, we need to work together now to reduce the impact of COVID-19 for British businesses and put them in a stronger position to resume business travel as soon as this crisis situation ends.
The UK business travel sector generates £10 billion in revenue every year and currently employs over 12,000 people located right across the UK.