Travel agents ask to be allowed give credit notes for cancelled holidays

The Irish Travel Agents Association said airlines are not refunding flights to members

The Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) said it was deeply concerned by the impact the pandemic was having on its members and their customers. Photograph: iStock

The Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) said it was deeply concerned by the impact the pandemic was having on its members and their customers. Photograph: iStock

 

The umbrella group for Irish travel agents has called on the Government to change the rules and allow holiday companies offer credit notes instead of cash when holidays are cancelled as a result of the Covid-19 crisis.

The Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) said it was “deeply concerned” by the impact the pandemic was having on its members and their customers.

It pointed out that the Irish travel industry employs over 3,500 people in “mainly in small, family-run businesses” and said many businesses had been “left without income for the foreseeable future, and are under huge financial strain.”

Many travel agents who have taken bookings for package holidays in recent months have paid airlines for flights and the ITAA said that with those airlines - notably, in this country Ryanair and Aer Lingus - “refusing to refund travel agents the cost of the flights, it is impossible for ITAA member travel agents to provide all customers with full refunds for bookings”.

As a result the ITAA wants the Government to be “mindful of the pressures faced by small travel businesses across the country as the Coronavirus situation progresses, and to consider supporting the travel industry with the introduction of credit notes for affected customers”.

The ITAA chief executive Pat Dawson called on the Government “to support vulnerable travel and tourism businesses during the pandemic. The implementation of credit notes for affected customers may help to protect otherwise healthy businesses that are suffering financially as a result of the current situation with the Coronavirus.”

Earlier this week it emerged, the Ireland along with 11 other EU countries had written to the European Commisson asking it to give the green light to airlines to allow them offer credit notes instead of cash refunds.

The letter said that when existing regulations which guarantee consumers full refunds in the event that flights were cancelled were drawn up, the scale of the coronavirus crisis and its impact on commercial air travel “could not have been foreseen”.

A voucher system would support airlines and incentivise people to travel, which would boost economies across the EU in the months ahead, it said

In recent days Aer Lingus and Ryanair have been encouraging passengers on flights cancelled because of the coronavirus crisis to accept vouchers instead of cash. Both airlines have insisted they are fully compliant with existing EU refund regulations.