Published on Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Industry waits for CAA to confirm it will refund Shearings' credit notes


Industry leaders are waiting to see if the Civil Aviation Authority refunds credit notes issued to customers of the failed tour operator Shearings.

The 107-year-old escorted tours operator collapsed on Friday when its parent company Specialist Leisure Group went into administration.

While all of Shearings' future package holiday bookings are financially protected, there is some doubt that refund credit notes previously issued for cancelled bookings due to the coronavirus pandemic are covered by the ATOL scheme.

ABTA is adamant customers with credit notes should be refunded by the Air Travel Trust Fund, but the Civil Aviation Authority, which manages the fund, has yet to confirm this is the case. However, it has already sent claim forms to clients with RCNs requesting information.

One customer with a credit note from Shearings said she was pleasantly surprised to receive an email immediately from the CAA with details of how to apply for a refund. 

The CAA claim form includes a section for customers with 'outstanding refunds', but, unlike customers with forward bookings, they will have to fill out a Declaration of Outstanding Refund, which must be signed by a solicitor, commissioner for oaths, or an officer of a court appointed by a judge to take declarations, adding an extra cost to the process.

One customer said: "I only paid a small deposit for my holiday so it might not be worth going to the expense of getting a solicitor to sign this form, I'll probably try to make claim on my credit card instead."

The CAA did not immediately respond to our request for confirmation that RCNs will be refunded and it's not clear if it is the Authority's intention is to refund credit notes or only those customers who are still owed cash refunds.

It is understood that only a small number of Shearings' holidays were air-based packages, with the majority coach tours protected by the Confederation of Passenger Transport, so it's unlikely many customers received RCNs.

However, the issue is important because if the CAA refunds Shearings' credit notes, it will give the trade confidence that ABTA is correct in asserting that RCNs are financially protected.


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