IATA is calling for European Union regulators to temporarily
suspend the requirement that European airlines offer refunds when flights are
The request comes as airlines in Europe and elsewhere have
canceled an unprecedented number of flights due to the Covid-19 crisis. Some
carriers have unilaterally decided to suspend refunds or make them more
difficult to process.
“Permitting the use of vouchers instead of refunds, as has
been allowed for some tour operators, would give airlines breathing space to
repair cash flows,” IATA said.
According to the CAPA Centre for Aviation, scheduled
European flight capacity is down 59% this week from a year earlier. The real
reduction is likely higher, CAPA added, since the data did not appear to
reflect the true extent of announced flight cuts.
Among European carriers, Swiss already states on its website
that it is not currently processing any refunds on any sales channels so that
it can focus on cancellations and rebookings.
EU carriers Air France, KLM, Aegean, Olympic Air and Plus
Ultra Lineas Aereas have informed ARC that they will manage all refunds
directly and not allow them to be processed via GDSs or ARC’s Interactive Agent
Reporting (IAR) system.