The European Travel Agents’ and Tour Operators’ Association (ECTAA) is urging airlines to fulfil their refund obligations and calling on the EU to revise the legal framework in order to ensure fair play and competition.
“One year since the start of this gigantic crisis, several airlines continue to delay or ignore refund requests, putting IATA accredited travel agents under financial pressure as customers are claiming a refund,” said ECTAA.
At the same time the travel industry continues to face financial challenges due to the ongoing pandemic.
“The travel sector is built on a whole integrated ecosystem. What we are seeing today is that when one part fails, it affects strongly the others,” said Emmanuel Mounier, secretary-general of eu travel tech, which represents the interests of travel technology companies.
ECTAA adds that one year after the Covid-19 outbreak, travel companies have been confronted with massive refund requests for trips cancelled due to lockdowns, border closures and travel restrictions.
ECTAA President Pawel Niewiadomski described the situation as “unacceptable” adding that airlines’ refusal to refund travel companies and their customers is impacting the industry.
“To push the cash crunch down the travel value chain and onto the customers is critical both from a competition as well as consumer protection standpoint. It has to stop,” Niewiadomski added.
At the same time, ECTAA notes that public announcements by some carriers that refunds have been made, are creating the “wrong impression”.
“The issue is not solved as many airlines still have a backlog of refund requests,” the organization said, adding that Competition Authorities have been requested to make state aid to airlines conditional on processing refunds.