Abta has issued fresh guidance on airline cancellations and urged members to report any cases where airlines do not comply with their legal obligations on refunds.

The association said that refunds must be paid by airlines in line with EU Regulation 261 and contract law, and echoed a call made by the Association of Atol Companies to ensure any emergency funds made their way “down the chain”.

Mark Tanzer, Abta chief executive, said: “These are unprecedented times in the travel industry, and for the sector to come through it is vital that all parts of the chain respect their obligations.

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“Governments have rightly identified the aviation sector as requiring emergency support, but funds provided must find their way to the passengers and corporate partners of the airlines – tour operators and travel agents – or the problem is simply moved down the chain.”

He added: “The CAA and IATA have issued guidance reminding airlines of their obligations to provide refunds on cancellation and these obligations can be enforced by the Regulatory Authority, and, if necessary, at law.

“This will be to the detriment of the whole travel and tourism sector, and their customers, at a time when co-operation is essential. Abta is asking its Members to notify them of any airline refund policies that do not comply with the law.”