PARIS: Airlines are asking for support from their customers as they face paying passengers back for flights canceled as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the industry said Wednesday.
“We are calling for support from travelers … that’s real and we’re doing it on our knees,” said Alexandre de Juniac, president of the International Air Transport Association ( IATA), on French TV and radio station BFM Business.
Coronavirus lockdowns have caused most flights to stay grounded, and air traffic is slowly recovering, placing airlines in a risky financial condition.
Airlines operating flights to and from Europe have to reimburse passengers for canceled flights within two weeks in compliance with EU law, but with the help of France and a number of other nations, airlines offer coupons or even make customers wait much longer to get their cashback.
De Juniac said the industry is also seeking to persuade the European Commission to permit it to use vouchers or allow it more time to reimburse passengers.
Why are we asking for this? Not for fun. It’s more our business to pamper passengers than to pose problems for them, especially financial issues,” he said.
But, “Airlines’ cash flow is in an apocalyptic situation,” he added.
Last month, IATA said it projected airlines worldwide to incur $84 billion in losses this year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
While few have gone bankrupt so far, airlines have started shedding tens of thousands of employees and several countries have stepped in to support or rescue carriers.
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