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Bulletin 10 from Michael Edwards, Managing Director

  • Introduction

  • Refunds – Flights

  • Refunds – Groups

- Aviate Groups

- Lime (British Airways)

  • Refunds – BSP

  • Partner News

  • British Airways extends Book with Confidence Policy

  • British Airways return to flying

  • Cathay Pacific agrees £4bn bail out

  • Virgin Atlantic announces return to Flying

  • Virgin Atlantic update their Covid-19 flexibility policy

  • Virgin Voyages postpone first sailing

  • Forward Booking Trends

  • Looking forward

INTRODUCTION

I hope you are continuing to find these bulletins useful and informative.  Thank you for your continued support and kind messages that we have received over the past few weeks and months.  I want to take some time to share some figures with you; to equip you with a deeper insight into the level of disruption the Travel Innovation Group has experienced over recent months.  I hope these figures demonstrate our commitment to you - our customers, and our morality as a business.

To date, we have achieved each of the deadlines we have published for each refund cycle - for flights and groups.

At a glance:

  • 651 airline policy updates
  • 11,795 refund requests sent to airlines
  • £13,554,713 worth of refunds paid over to our customers to date
  • Over 2000 Exchange Travel Credits processed

We still have much more to do and we will continue to stay focused, communicating with you along the way.

Moving on to industry news, we are already starting to see an increase in communications from our airline partners relating to cabin cleanliness, cleaning procedures and enhanced health and safety onboard.  Rather than notifying you of each one of these procedures for each of our airline partners, we have created a dedicated page within our Covid-19 portal where each of these procedures will be published – you can view them here.  I would like to reassure you that we do not deal with any airline that is not compliant with Health and Safety regulations, therefore you can work on the basis that all of our airlines are as safe as possible for your customers.

In addition to airline-specific updates, the government has now released some health and safety advice in relation to air travel – which can be found on the government website here.

Another useful tool is the introduction of the interactive world map from IATA which provides you and your customers with the latest Covid-19 entry regulations by country. The service is free to use and is updated over 200 times per day.  If passengers are looking at travelling imminently this is particularly useful to quickly confirm if any restrictions are currently in place - either when transiting or entering a country.  The IATA map is viewable here.

REFUNDS: FLIGHTS

Our most recent cycle (16 June) will be completed today as per the schedule below.  Refunds will be made back to the original form of payment.

Processed for Refund (email confirmation sent to you by us)

Expected Payment date

(from airlines to us)

Refunds paid to Tour Operator (at latest by)

Cycle Complete

Up to 15 March

02 April

16 April

YES

16 to 31 March

17 April

01 May

YES

01 to 15 April

04 May

18 May

YES

16 to 30 April

18 May

01 June

YES

01 to 15 May

02 June

16 June

YES

16 to 31 May

17 June*

01 July

01 to 16 June

02 July*

16 July

16 to 30 June

17 July*

03 August

*We will need these clear funds from IATA/the airlines before processing your Refunds to you


REFUNDS: GROUPS

LIME BRITISH AIRWAYS GROUPS REFUND TIMELINE

Our most recent groups payment cycle (16 June) will be completed today as per the schedules below.  Refunds will be made back to the original form of payment.  A list of airlines and their refund methods can be found here (see column Full Refunds Permitted).

Processed for Refund (email confirmation sent to you by us)

Expected Payment date

(from British Airways to Lime)

Refunds paid to Tour Operator (at latest by)

Cycle Complete

16 to 31 March

30 April

01 June

YES

01 to 15 April

15 May

16 June

YES

16 to 30 April

29 May

23 June

01 to 15 May

12 June

30 June

16 to 31 May

26 June*

07 July

01 to 16 June

10 July*

23 July

16 to 30 June

27 July*

10 August

This timeline covers Group booking in all their various stages – deposited, fully paid (not ticketed) and ticketed.  *Dates are based on British Airways payment for refunds and presume monies are refunded to Lime in line with this cycle.

AVIATE AIRLINE GROUPS REFUND TIMELINE

Processed for Refund (email confirmation sent to you by us)

Expected Payment date

(from British Airways to Lime)

Refunds paid to Tour Operator (at latest by)

Cycle Complete

16 to 31 March

15 April

01 June

YES

01 to 15 April

01 May

16 June

YES

16 to 30 April

15 May

23 June

01 to 15 May

01 June

30 June

16 to 31 May

15 June

07 July

01 to 16 June

02 July*

23 July

16 to 30 June

17 July*

10 August

This timeline covers Group bookings in all their various stages – deposited, fully paid (not ticketed) and ticketed.  *Dates are based on IATA payments for GDS refunds and monies are refunded to Aviate by IATA in line with this cycle.    Refunds which require airline authorisation (via BSPLink or other offline method) fall outside of this process and will take longer.

AVIATE REFUNDS VIA BSPLINK

Key Airlines

Estimated payment date (from airlines to Aviate) from submission date

Refunds paid to Tour Operator (at latest)

EK/EY/SQ/VN/CX

7-9 weeks

+2 weeks

VS

12-16 weeks

+2 weeks

LH

14-16 weeks

+2 weeks

WY/UX/TP/TK/MH

6 months

+2 weeks

AFKL

12 months

+2 weeks

MK

24 months

+2 weeks

DY

No refunds authorised to date

+2 weeks

This means for BSPLINK refund claims, if for example, the submission was in early April then for Emirates, Etihad, Singapore, Vietnam, and Cathy Pacific, you will start to see repayments shortly – with some having already been refunded.  The later the submission, of course, the later the repayment dates. The greater the predicted delay from the airline then the timelines are more dubious.

PARTNER NEWS

British Airways update their Book with Confidence Policy

British Airways released v9 of their Book with Confidence Policy – effective from 10 June 2020.  Changes included extending the policy for bookings ticketed any time, for travel (outbound or inbound) between 14 March and 31 August 2020 (previously 31 July 2020).    The policy was also extended for new bookings made between 03 March and 31 August 2020 (previously 31 July 2020) for travel up to and completed by 30 April 2021 (previously 31 December 2020).

British Airways return to flying

British Airways have announced they are to start flying their short haul network with effect from 01 July 2020.  Seats are now on general sale.  This will be a phased approach meaning that not all usual weekly/daily flights are on a consistent schedule initially whilst services will resume to serve as many destinations as possible.  From 16 July short haul services will be increased further to provide a more regular flying schedule.  Long haul routes are being expanded upon from mid-July onwards with increasing services being added each week to various destinations, including the Caribbean, Indian Ocean and the USA amongst others.   For all British Airways news visit the Lime website here

Cathay Pacific agrees £4bn bailout

A HK$39 billion (£4 billion) state bailout of Cathay Pacific has been agreed.  The Hong Kong government will take a 6% stake in Cathay Pacific and can have two observers on its board as part of the recapitalisation plan. This plan will inject liquidity back into the business, putting the carrier in a better position to strongly compete in the future.

Virgin Atlantic announce return to flying

Last week, Virgin Atlantic announced their return to flying will begin on 20 July 2020, by starting to fly to Orlando, New York – JFK, Los Angeles, Shanghai, and Hong Kong.  More destinations will be added to their flying schedule in August.  All Virgin Atlantic announcements will be available on our news page here.

Virgin Atlantic update their Covid-19 Flexibility Policy

Virgin Atlantic updated their Covid-19 Flexibility Policy on 12 June.  Main updates include; now allowing up to 2 date changes with fees waived, one name charge free of charge, and the extension of the new booking policy to cover original travel to 30 April 2021.  For those travelling through 30 September 2020, Virgin Atlantic now offer the same guidance regardless of ticket issue date.  For full information read the update here

Virgin Voyages postpone first sailing

At the beginning of 2020, we launched Voyage Store – we are Virgin Voyages selected partner for distributing Virgin Voyage packages to the UK trade. Given the current situation, Virgin Voyages have made the decision to further postpone their first sailing until 16 October 2020, you can read the full article here

FORWARD BOOKING TRENDS

We thought it would be useful to share some insight into forward booking trends from our partner Skyscanner – this data is based on searches over a 10-day period in May 2020 where over 2.6 million searches were undertaken. Consumers are still actively searching and forward planning for international travel, and we are starting to see some green shoots across the board – 48 from the top 100 destinations are long-haul destinations.

Top 10 departure months:

  1. August 2020
  2. September 2020
  3. December 2020
  4. October 2020
  5. April 2021
  6. March 2021
  7. November 2020
  8. May 2021
  9. February 2021
  10. January 2021

Top 10 Long haul destinations:

  1. Bangkok
  2. Orlando
  3. New York
  4. Dubai
  5. Bali
  6. Las Vegas
  7. Miami
  8. Sydney
  9. Los Angeles
  10. Cancun

Other highly searched long-haul destinations (outside of the top 10) Include Tokyo, Singapore, Phuket, Cape Town, Melbourne, Colombo, Maldives, Mauritius, Vancouver, and Saigon.

The below table shows the top 10 forward departure months – based on booking data from across our group - Lime, Aviate and Virgin Atlantic Flightstore.

Top 10 departure months:

  1. April 2021
  2. March 2021
  3. February 2021
  4. December 2020
  5. July 2020
  6. October 2020
  7. January 2021
  8. May 2021
  9. November 2020
  10. September 2020

Top 10 destinations:

  1. Greece
  2. USA
  3. South Africa
  4. UAE
  5. Maldives
  6. Australia
  7. Japan
  8. Thailand
  9. Canada
  10. Barbados

Particularly promising is an upturn in searches and bookings across our group’s revenue streams.  Below figures are based on a comparison from second week in May 2020 v second week of June 2020.

  • Website searches have increased by +61% across the group
  • New passengers booked have increased by +79% across the group

There is still a long way to go, but these are promising figures which we predict to continue rising over coming weeks and months.

LOOKING FORWARD

It is important that we - the Travel Innovation Group as a whole including Lime, Aviate and Calrom (our software development division)- now start to cement our plans for the future.  These plans will ensure that we are in the optimal position to fully support you when we see more bookings begin to return.

Service - We are reviewing our service capabilities and will be introducing new policies and measures to further enhance our delivery of service to you.

Direct Debits - We will shortly be re-introducing this payment method with new combined credit allowances so you have a single credit that can be used for bookings across Lime, Aviate and Virgin Atlantic Flightstore.

API technology - We have now launched our new Travel Innovation Group API for automated communication of our fares into your own system. If you would like to discuss the options available, please feel free to contact sales@travelinnovationgroup.com

System upgrades – As covered in previous bulletins, we’ve made a number of enhancements (some of the below to go live this month) to our online booking system, these have been built to give you greater control over your bookings and the new features you need given the current situation.  They include:

  • Streamlining the use of Covid-19 Exchange Travel Credits, allowing you to request ticketing on ETC bookings from within your account.
  • Schedule Change Robot provides you with a more efficient way of handling affected bookings.

New system functions to be introduced :

New 14-day Pre-Ticketing Deadline control - so that you are reminded not to ticket unnecessarily too early. (coming in July)

Auto ticketing – Our new auto-ticketing function will allow all of our customers to schedule payment and ticketing in ‘X’ number of days prior to the ticketing deadline for bookings.  Our systems will then automatically do this for you on the calculated date.

Low Cost Carrier fares - We will be introducing new functionality to enable bookings on Low Cost Carriers, including many UK short haul carriers and those operating in and between many destinations.

Groups Marketplace - This will enable your ad-hoc booking enquiries to be lodged more efficiently and enable us to better search airlines for your best group options.

Airline Failure Insurance - We are discussing options with underwriters to offer a new safeguard policy to protect against airline failure.

Exporting Bookings - The option to export your bookings into an excel document from our booking engine.

We would like to start conversations with our customers to discover how we can enhance what we do to best meet your requirements in the future, therefore if you would like to make any suggestions then please do so by emailing sales@travelinnovationgroup.com or by contacting me via the 1-2-1 meeting request form, accessible here.

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