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Published on Friday, November 6, 2020

Travel Republic says it's paid out 'equivalent of 20 years of refunds'

Travel Republic's managing director has said sorry to the thousands of customers who have been waiting for refunds or information over the past few months and has promised the company will reopen phone lines on Monday (9 November).

Antonio Fellino said the online travel agent had learned from its mistakes, was 'truly sorry' and said it had paid out refunds to 100,000 customers, which he likened to the 'equivalent to 20 years of cancellations and refunds in normal times'.

He apologised for adding to the stress of customers by closing phone lines in the middle of summer, but said the company 'had no choice', because it was overwhelmed. He maintained closing the lines was the 'right thing to do' at the time.

In a message to customers, posted on Twitter, he said:  "From reading my many messages and emails received from you, we know that this has been a worrying and upsetting time and we are truly sorry if we have added to this.

"The travel industry has experienced its toughest period in recent history and the impact of Covid-19 will leave a scar on businesses for many years to come. Fortunately, we have been able to survive and I want to reassure you that we are here to stay.

"One area where we know we let you down was with our refund timeline and the stress that was caused to you by the difficulties and delays we faced in providing package holiday refunds. We have taken responsibility for this and I can confidently say that we never sought to point the finger of blame elsewhere.

"Since the pandemic crisis began in March, we have refunded over 100,000 of our package holiday customers - that's the equivalent to 20 years of cancellations and refunds in 'normal times' and a position not many other online travel agencies are able to be in. Additionally, our team has supported customers with more than 120,000 customer service requests."

He said refunds have been paid for customers due to depart up to 25 October and all others will be refunded within 14 days of cancellation. Travel Republic also promised to 'actively liaise with suppliers' on behalf of customers with non-refundable hotel or flight-only bookings.

Fellino added: "Rest assured, we have learnt from our mistakes over the last seven months and have been working extremely hard to fix them by adapting our business to the demands of the new world.

"The daily changes in airline schedules and hotel openings and the need to prioritise customers with imminent departures, left us with no choice but to close our phonelines. I understand this has been a frustrating experience for you and was not something that we considered lightly, but, due to the hundreds of thousands of customers affected, it was the right action to take to be able to assist those customers immediately impacted.

"As we strive to rebuild your trust in us once more, I am absolutely delighted to confirm that our customer service phonelines will reopen on 9 November."

By Lisa James, Deputy Editor (UK)

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