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Refund credit protection extended for Covid-disrupted travellers

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The aviation regulator has extended the protection available to holidaymakers who are issued with refund credit notes if their booking has been cancelled due to coronavirus.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has announced an extension to the ATOL protection offered for refund credit notes.

ATOL is a protection scheme afforded to holidaymakers with flight-based bookings which refunds, repatriates and reimburses travellers if the company goes bust.

Given the ongoing disruption to the travel industry caused by the pandemic, the CAA confirmed that refund credit notes issued up to 31 March 2021 will come with ATOL protection. This protection was due to expire on 31 January 2021.

These notes will then be covered up until 30 September 2021, at which point the government backing for their ATOL protection will end.

This means holidaymakers should exchange the notes for cash – holidaymakers are entitled to a cash refund if they don’t want to accept a refund credit note – or use them to buy an ATOL protected booking before this date.

However, the Air Travel Trust (ATT) said it is possible some holidaymakers may not be able to redeem their refund credit notes before this date and is “engaging with the government to discuss the issue and how it might best be addressed”.

‘Notes offered in good faith and consumers won’t be at financial risk’

Paul Smith, consumer director at the CAA said “We recognise that changes to government restrictions on travel have an unprecedented effect on ATOL holders and on consumers with ATOL protected bookings. In light of these circumstances, we have extended ATOL protection for refund credit notes.

“This will allow for travel companies to offer their customers refund credit notes in good faith and mean that consumers will not be at financial risk if they choose to accept a refund credit note rather than a cash refund.”

To benefit from the protection, refund credit notes:

  • Must be issued for a cancelled ATOL protected booking
  • The booking must have been cancelled by the tour operator due to the coronavirus pandemic
  • The refund credit note must be able to be exchanged for cash at a later date.

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