Steve Heapy said: “We have taken time to study the Global Travel Taskforce’s framework, and we are extremely disappointed at the lack of clarity and detail.
After several weeks exploring how to restart international travel, with substantial assistance and input from the industry, the framework lacks any rigorous detail about how to get international travel going again. In fact, the framework is virtually the same as six months ago.
Following the publication of the framework today, we still do not know when we can start to fly, where we can fly to and the availability and cost of testing. Rather than answering questions, the framework leaves everyone asking more.
We know how much our customers want to get away to enjoy their well-deserved holidays. We have seen buoyant confidence levels from UK holidaymakers, as well as strong demand for our ATOL protected package holidays and leisure flights. We are trying to run a business so that we can take customers away, but we need the Government to provide us with clarity to achieve this.
Because of the continued uncertainty that the framework provides, it is with a heavy heart that we have taken the decision to extend the suspension of flights and holidays up to and including 23rd June 2021. Where customers yet to travel are affected by any programme changes, we will automatically cancel their booking with a full refund, and our team of travel experts will be in touch to help them to book their summer getaway for later in the year.
We have received praise from customers, consumer organisations, media and independent travel agents for our industry-leading and prompt refunding of over £1bn to customers whose travel plans have been affected by programme changes during the pandemic, and we will continue this customer-first approach. Unlike many other companies, we will refund customers if they want their money back and we will not force them to accept refund credit notes.
It has been over a year since international travel was first suspended because of the pandemic. Much has been achieved in that time, making it even more frustrating that we are still to receive a clear framework on how to restart international travel. We know it can be done, in a safe and secure way, and we will continue to support the Government to achieve this.
The health and safety of our customers and colleagues will of course continue to be our number one priority, and we look forward to taking our customers on their well-deserved holidays once again. We welcome the Government’s ambition to reopen travel, however the time has come for the industry to receive the necessary detail to make this happen.”