ABTA has announced an extension to its current Refund Credit Note (RCN) regime, recognising the continuing impact of Covid-19 on the travel sector. The aim is to ensure that Members have the option of issuing further ABTA-protected RCNs at a time when significant travel restrictions are still in place and Member income is minimal.
ABTA-backed RCNs which have already been issued are valid only until the expiry date shown on them, which can be no later than 31 March 2021. The new RCNs will be valid up to and including 30 September 2021 at the latest. The deadline for issuing these RCNs is 31 March this year.
Refund Credit Notes work because customers are prepared to accept them as an alternative to an immediate refund and have confidence they will not ‘lose out’ in the long run. Maintaining the financial protection which backs RCNs is critical to keeping consumer confidence in them, and so that financial protection must be in place for the duration of an RCN’s validity.
For Members to be eligible to issue the new RCNs, they must meet a set of criteria as outlined in ABTA’s guidance which is available on ABTA’s MemberZone. A spokesperson for ABTA said: “We believe that this extension to our RCN regime will be welcomed by Members. We ask that you read and understand the full detail in the guidance as soon as you can, and get in touch with your Financial Protection team contact with any questions you have and/or to commence the application process.”
For those who want to know more, ABTA will be hosting a free-to-attend webinar on Refund Credit Notes at 10.30 on 4 February.
ABTA’s news follows the CAA’s announcement that ATOL-backed RCNs can now be issued until the end of March this year.
ABTA has welcomed the CAA news, which follows discussions between ABTA and the CAA over the past few weeks.
John de Vial, ABTA’s Director of Membership and Financial Services said: “We have been speaking with the CAA about the importance of travel businesses having the option to offer customers a Refund Credit Note beyond the end of January, so we’re pleased they have responded to our calls and extended the deadline this week.
“At the same time, we have also been looking at our own Refund Credit Notes, which were valid until the end of January or March this year. Members will now have the option to issue Refund Credit Notes until the end of March with an expiry date of 30 September 2021. Full details, along with the criteria, can be found in the ABTA MemberZone. Hopefully this will help to ease some of the pressure on Members at this very difficult time, and will help to support consumer confidence.”