Eight airlines have informed ARC that they will manage refunds directly and not allow them to be processed via GDSs or ARC’s Interactive Agent Reporting (IAR) system.

The carriers are Air France, KLM, WestJet, El Al, TAP Portugal, Air Transat, Kazakhstan-based Air Astana and Spain’s Plus Ultra Lineas Aereas.

The changes come as refunds are far outpacing sales because of the coronavirus pandemic. Travel advisors, said ARC, should contact the airlines directly and follow their individual policies for refunds. 

ARC said it will update its own webpage as soon as it is notified of any change in an airline’s refund process. The airline-owned corporation also said that it recognizes the changes will impact the business flow and processes of agencies, including records, back-office files and disbursements. 

“ARC settlement is designed to facilitate efficient sales, exchange and refund processes between airlines and travel agencies. While we are unable to process refunds for airlines that have made the decision to manage these transactions directly, we are striving to make it as easy as possible for agencies to quickly and efficiently contact airlines regarding refunds,” the corporation’s website says. 

Columbus, Ohio-based travel agent Richard Lewis said he worries that evolving policies by airlines will lead him to undertake transactions that result in debit memos. 

“I can’t afford to fight a battle if I’m debited back by a carrier,” he said. 

Peter Vlitas, senior vice president of airlines for Travel Leaders Group, said that he expects cancellation rules to continue evolving. He added that debit memos are on the rise. 

ARC declined to comment on debit memos.

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