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Published on Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Save Future Travel campaign launched after Govt. fails to relax refund rules

ABTA is calling on members to back a campaign launched today to put more pressure on the Government to protect the travel industry.

It is asking members to visit its new campaign website,, and send an electronic letter to their local MPs appealing for action.

ABTA claims Government intervention is needed to prevent travel companies collapsing, which will cost the taxpayer £4.5 billion in refunds that the Air Travel Trust Fund can't cover, and hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Chief executive Mark Tanzer said: "ABTA has been doing all it can on behalf of the industry to make it clear to Government the devastating impact this crisis is having and to provide workable solutions to help them to do what it takes to support us."

ABTA first asked ministers to relax the Package Travel Regulations three weeks ago in order to give travel companies more time to refund clients for cancelled holidays, but so far the government has not responded, even though ABTA is claiming that the alternative is 'mass travel company failures'.

One of the biggest fears for travel companies is that clients denied cash refunds for cancelled holidays within the seven days stated in the Package Travel Regulations will attempt chargebacks from their credit cards, with potentially catastrophic consequences for some businesses.

As part of its Save Future Travel campaign, ABTA is asking the Government to intervene in the financial sector to 'ensure a proportionate response'.

It said it has 'serious concerns about the way in which Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act (1975) is being implemented, with banks and credit card companies seemingly adopting an overly permissive approach to the application of chargebacks'.

It has also warned that merchant acquirers, which process credit card payments, are varying terms, typically by restricting the flow of payments to the sellers, through increased retentions and security demands.

"This is happening at the very moment the changes can least be accommodated by businesses with reduced cash flow," said ABTA.

Airlines refusing to issue refunds for cancelled flights is 'one of the main contributory factors to this extreme cash crisis', it added. 

"This is not only a breach of the airline's contract with either the customer or the travel company, but also a breach of their obligations under EU regulation 261/2004 (air passenger rights)," it said.

As part of its Save Future Travel campaign, ABTA is also asking the Government to amend its Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which currently only applies to furloughed staff, leaving companies who still need staff to work to pick up 100% of the wage bill.

Following criticism from businesses that they are struggling to obtain Government-backed loans via their banks, ABTA wants assurance that loans for both small and large companies will be 'accessible in practice and uniform in approach'.

Tanzer added: "The Chancellor promised UK businesses that he would do 'whatever it takes' to help the country get through this pandemic, and we need the Government to act.

"This crisis has created extraordinary difficulties for everyone, in ways that none of us could ever have predicted. Many sectors have been hit hard but few have been hit as hard as travel. The changes that we have asked for are reasonable, as has been shown by other governments taking similar action."

The Travel Network Group has also given its members access to template letters to lobby MPs, having supported ABTA and the CAA in their conversations with the Government about the need for changes to the PTRs.

"A decision from the Government should be imminent, in order to avoid businesses collapsing in the short term," said CEO Gary Lewis.

He said TTNG has taken a number of other initiatives designed to help members at this challenging time.

"To take some pressure off our members, we have recently launched an initiative whereby members are sending us details of their customers' travel insurance policies and we will carry out the research on their behalf, so as to understand if their customers can claim from their travel insurance under the cancellation cover," he said.

He said the support team is already helping more than 60 members with the research.


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  • airlines just say no to refunds

    very few even have the funds to refund even 10% of passengers. Most have no funds at all & were running at a loss before Corona.

    By Michael Anderson, Tuesday, April 7, 2020

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