Abta has welcomed news that the government views refund credit notes as an acceptable alternative to cash refunds for cancelled holidays and confirmation from the Department for Business (BEIS) that these will be financially protected.

The association called on the CAA also to publicly confirm the credit notes are protected, saying an earlier confirmation from the government “would have helped avoid a lot of concern and confusion among customers”.

Travel Weekly revealed this morning that the Department for Business (BEIS) had confirmed refund credit notes “will be financially protected” in a ‘Business Companion Coronavirus Bulletin’ on travel, issued jointly by the department and the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) on May 7.

Abta has been pressing BEIS to confirm this for weeks.

In a statement, Abta said: “That the government recognises and is now communicating that credit notes are financially protected and may be offered will give customers confidence that their money is safe.”

The association said: “Abta has been clear from the start that Refund Credit Notes are financially protected under the terms of the Atol payment policy.

“If this had been confirmed earlier by government it would have helped avoid a lot of concern and confusion among customers.

“It would be helpful if the CAA could now also publicly confirm the same, as suggested by the current wording on its website.”

Business Companion Coronavirus Bulletin acknowledges the Package Travel Regulations (PTRs) “still apply” to cancellations and says “a full refund or re-booking (if Abta or Atol protected) should be offered”.

But it notes “the strict application of legislation may not be appropriate” and states “a credit note is [an] increasingly popular alternative and will be financially protected”.

The bulletin carries the logos of BEIS and the CTSI throughout and advises businesses to follow Abta’s guidance.

Abta noted: “Abta has been actively lobbying the government on a number of measures to help the travel industry and this, along with the announced extension to the furlough scheme, is welcome news.

“We now need the Government to announce a wider strategy to support the industry through this crisis.”