Travel Innovation Group Bulletin 3 from Michael Edwards, Managing Director - 14 April 2020
I am pleased to confirm that we are on track to achieve our refund target and payments due to you for all refund requests processed up to 15 March, unless for circumstances outside our control, will be with you by close of business on 16 April.
This week our BSP payment (an actual credit from the airlines) is due for the period of processing 16 to 31 March. We hope to receive it promptly. (but have heard from industry contacts that the bank transfer from IATA BSP is taking up to a week longer to reach our account). We are set and ready to make the refunds due back to you as soon as the money is cleared in our account. We will move as swiftly as we can to action these for you.
We are also noting more airlines relaxing their policies following feedback and pressure from us and the trade generally. In particular, Virgin Atlantic have recently announced their Exchange Travel Credits are now available for travel until May 2022 and Emirates have relaxed their refund policy. For full details watch out for our updates.
Like other travel businesses, airlines have also furloughed significant proportions of staff. Some of our airline account managers have either been furloughed or made redundant. Whilst the airlines are restructuring their teams and reassigning others to look after us, this is inevitably having an impact on communications and response times. We are now meeting all our SLA internal targets and therefore please be patient should a matter requiring airline assistance / escalation be taking longer than normally expected. Our team will keep you up to date on such individual matters.
I hope you find Bulletin 3 useful.
REFUNDS (IT, Seat Only, Cruise and Published fares) - further information
By close of business on 16 April, we will be on track and all refund requests processed up to 15 March will have been paid to our customers. In this cycle, Lime has repaid refunds to 112 tour operators and Aviate 129. Some with multiple refunds.
For the refunds processed 16 to 31 March, please see my remarks in the introduction above. As soon as the funds are received from the airlines we will, as swiftly as possible, send Bank Transfer refunds where due. Unfortunately, any refunds claimed via the Offline BSP link will not be included.
We can also confirm, where refunds are allowable, ALL refund requests received by Monday 13 April have been processed by us and will be included in the 04 May payment cycle (apart from those claimed via the Offline BSP facility).
Refund Timeline Table (also see note below Offline BSP Refunds) – updated as we are ahead of our expected timelines.
As this is so important and as a reminder:
On the day we have processed your Refund requests, you will receive a confirmation email from us. For Aviate, this will also confirm which method the airline allows us to
make the refund claim.
Aviate GDS claim.
If the Refund has been processed with the airlines via the ‘GDS’ it will be paid to you as per the timelines in the table.
Aviate Offline BSP claim.
If, due to the airlines policy, it must be processed via the Offline BSP facility, we are more in the hands of the airlines as to when we will receive these funds from them.
Unfortunately, these may take some considerable time with some airlines estimating between 12 to 16 weeks.
Virgin Atlantic Flightstore / Virgin Atlantic Offline BSP Refunds Process.
Please note as from 01 April, Virgin Atlantic have amended their Refund process and all Refunds now have to be processed via the Offline BSP facility. As stated above, this means we cannot confirm when our refund claims will be view and authorized by Virgin – and when you will receive the Refund. We are in constant liaison with Virgin Atlantic and, if and when we get a better understanding of timelines, we will update you.
Lime / BA claim.
All British Airways Refunds will be paid as per the timelines, in the table.
We hope that, with this information including what we will detail on the individual confirmation emails, you will be better able to plan and manage your customer expectations on when their Refund may be received.
*We will need these clear funds from IATA / the airlines before processing your Refunds to you.
KEY AIRLINE NEWS
British Airways Additional Price Points (APP).
British Airways have announced the launch of more Additional Price Point fares on their long-haul Atlantic Joint Business routes to the United States and Canada. These will be introduced in the World Traveller cabin and will now create 30 fare levels in economy. These new fares are available via Lime as we are an NDC leisure partner of British Airways. These fares will be available from Q class right up to B class. The fares will be released from this week covering Heathrow and Gatwick departures, with an initial 19 gateway destinations included. All routes will be launched by 01 May 2020. Full details of the fares can be found here.
Air Canada Policy Clarification
Any bookings schedule changed by AC up to 19 March are entitled to a full refund. Any schedule changes made by AC after this date can opt for an Exchange Travel Credit, or a refund under the original fare conditions.
As mentioned in the introduction and following representations from us, Virgin Atlantic have recently announced their Exchange Travel Credits are now available for travel all the way through until May 2022.
Emirates have just an announced a new and updated policy – which has been highlighted in the media. From Emirates - Full Refunds are now available “for flight cancellations, travel bans and lockdowns preventing travel, unused portion of the ticket is eligible for refund without penalty. Processing delays may apply due to current backlog”. Should you require a Refund rather than rebooking on a future Emirates’ flight, we will process these as soon possible however they will be enacted via BSP link (and thus causing a delay for re-payment by the airline, as stated).
NEW AVIATE COVID-19 HELP AND ADVICE PORTAL FOR TOUR OPERATORS
Aviate has created a new portal on its website. A one stop Aviate shop for all matters Covid-19. A location for all Bulletins plus a section where you can request a meeting call with me. If I can provide clarifications, what the Travel Innovation Group is undertaking, industry insights, views on the future or just a general chat then I am going to try and speak to as many of you as possible.
Take a look at the portal here
KEY TOPICS FOR BULLETIN 3 - 14 APRIL 2020
Exchange Travel Credits - (airline vouchers) – rebooking We will include a detailed section on these to assist with your re-bookings
Telephones - Getting our system up and running for under homeworking circumstances.