Wednesday 20 May 2020 1:03 pm

Public trust in airlines and travel firms at record low, says Which?

Public trust in the UK’s airlines and travel companies has dropped to a record low as passengers struggle to get refunds due to the coronavirus pandemic, new research from Which? has found.

According to a survey of 2,000 people, just 22 per cent of the public trust travel firms and airlines at the moment, with 58 per cent of respondents saying they were still waiting for refunds.

Read more: Travel industry calls on government to extend refund payment timetable

Nearly half of those are owed at least £500, and nearly three in 10 are owed more than £1,000.

As a result in the slump in trust, the consumer group’s Consumer Insight Tracker has fallen to a record low of -9.

It is only the second time that the measure has ever gone into the negative, the first being when travel operator Thomas Cook collapsed in September.

Under the law, customers are entitled to a cash refund within 14 days for a package holiday, and within seven days for for flights-only bookings.

However, due to the near complete collapse in international travel, airlines and travel firms have been totally overwhelmed by requests for refunds.

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Travel industry body ABTA has pleaded with customers for patience, saying that many firms would go bust if they were forced to pay out all the refunds at once.

A spokesperson for the association said: “Many travel agents and tour operators have a loyal customer base, who are being incredibly supportive during this crisis and are either rebooking cancelled holidays for a later date or accepting refund credit notes, which are financially protected according to the payment policy of the ATOL scheme.

“If a customer requests a refund for a cancelled package holiday, ABTA expects its members to provide these as quickly as they are able to. 

Read more: Coronavirus: Thwarted holidaymakers seeking £7bn in refunds

“The majority are doing this, however, the long delays in getting money back from airlines and the sheer volume of enquiries is making it virtually impossible to do so in 14 days”.

The association has been urging the government to provide clarity over the issue of refund credit notes in order to assure customers that they are fully financially protected.