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NEWS


The government has yet to give the go-ahead for testing trials at airports including Heathrow


‘We must regain consumer trust’


Ben Ireland


Travel businesses must regain customers’ trust in light of the hit to confidence in the industry caused by the refunds saga during the pandemic. That view was shared by


several industry leaders speaking at Travel Weekly’s Future of Travel Week event. Steve Heapy, chief executive


are ‘ready to go’ We don’t see


any mechanism apart from testing to reopen borders


system at the outset of the travel corridors policy but the government never broadcast what ‘green’, ‘amber’ and ‘red’ look like. We’ve said ‘re- purpose that’ – ‘green’ is a travel corridor, ’red’ a high-risk country and ‘amber’ for markets just beyond the travel corridor threshold.” Germany announced last week


it would introduce a similar system from October. Iata UK and Ireland country


manager Simon McNamara told the summit: “Germany introduced a testing regime almost overnight. There seems no reason why we can’t do the same. Could we just have a testing regime of some sort as soon as possible?” Dee said: “There are going to be some challenges for airports


travelweekly.co.uk


depending on their configuration and size. But once the decision is taken, we’re excellent as an industry at operational challenges. “There are a large number of


airports already hosting testing regimes for the NHS. What is important is we get a testing regime in place, whether pre-departure, on arrival or a combination.” EasyJet chief executive Johan


Lundgren told the summit: “The UK has been slow on testing. We have to get on – whether that is a single point of testing or two. We don’t have the luxury to pick and choose.” Steve Heapy, chief executive of


Jet2.com and Jet2holidays, said: “The government is looking at this, [but] is uneasy about talking to the industry because it’s leaky.” He noted: “We’re sympathetic


to the challenges they face. The last thing the government wants is a load of ‘false negatives’ [from testing] and people thinking ‘I’ve not got the


virus’ and spreading it.” i Destinations, page 34


Refund delays have damaged trust in the travel industry


of Jet2holidays, said “many companies” had “not done themselves or the industry any favours” by making refunds difficult, with customers having to “virtually beg for their money back” from some firms. He warned that customers


had “long memories” and would in future book with companies that had “looked after them” and had made the refunds process easy, particularly amid mass cancellations as a result of changing government restrictions. “From an industry point of


view, it’s quite worrying,” he said. “If we’re not careful the perception of people in travel is


going to be like that of estate agents and bankers. That’s not what this industry is about.” Noting people’s discretionary


spending may fall as the UK economy weakens, Heapy said there was hope as holidays are considered an “essential purchase”, but warned: “What we have to do, as an industry, is create trust.” Alan Bowen, legal advisor to


the Association of Atol Companies, said “travel agents were in the line of fire from day one” of the refunds saga, partly because holidaymakers “thought we were lying to them” about when refunds would be issued. “If we want people to trust


us, then they’ve got to be able to see that when we say we’ll do something, we’ll do it,” said Bowen. Lisa McAuley, managing


director of dnata UK’s B2B brands, said it was important for the industry to “put ourselves in the shoes of the consumer”. She said: “Loyalty and


commitment is all underpinned by trust and unfortunately they feel


like they’ve had a violation of trust.” i Future of Travel Week, page 10


17 SEPTEMBER 2020


5


PICTURES: Shutterstock


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