Virgin vows to process refunds within 120 days

Lucy Huxley

Virgin Atlantic has admitted it “fell short of its standards of service” in processing Covid-19-related refunds and apologised to trade partners and their customers. Speaking on a Travel Weekly

webcast, sales vice-president Lee Haslett said the airline had faced 10,000 enquiries a day, including refund requests, and described the time taken as “regrettable”. He said Virgin was now vowing to

process refund claims within 120 days of submission. Having increased the size of the team fivefold by bringing 167 staff out of furlough, he said the airline was processing refunds 30% quicker than at the start of the crisis. Haslett said: “We know at times

during this crisis, with regards to refunds, we’ve definitely fallen short of the standards of service that we hold ourselves to and we know that we owe our trade partners and our customers a heartfelt apology.” He admitted Virgin had “failed to

give the clarity needed” at times and had “let a lot of people down” and “caused agents pain”. “It’s really disappointing that we’ve

caused this pain for our agency partners that are so important to us, and also their customers and our customers. “Let me assure you, we are doing

everything we can to improve this.” But he rejected accusations of

purposely withholding refunds to “prop the company up” during its well-documented financial problems. Haslett said the refunds process

was made especially challenging because Virgin was simultaneously cancelling routes across its network, “which added to that backlog”. The airline returned to flying passengers this week with services


Coach companies from across the UK converged in London on Monday demanding government support for the sector. A convoy, of about 500 coaches, including one donning a historic Shearings livery, travelled to the capital as part of the Honk for Hope protest. Max Fletcher, managing director of Weston-super-Mare coach firm Bakers Dolphin, said: “The tourism sector will not be able to bounce back from the pandemic without a secure and viable coach industry.”

8 23 JULY 2020

Cabin crew at Heathrow prepare for Virgin’s first passenger flight for three months on Monday

to Hong Kong, New York and Los Angeles. These will be followed by 17

more routes from August 1. i Virgin secures £1.2bn deal, page 39

Q Rocky Mountaineer has changed its refund policy and agreed to return money to clients who don’t want to postpone. Agents criticised the Canadian rail operator for “hiding” behind a force majeure clause to claim it wasn’t liable for refunds – instead only offering 110% future travel credits. It has now changed its policy in the UK to align with the Package Travel Regulations.

Saga axes six members of its on-the-road team

Saga is understood to have made six redundancies in its on-the-road trade team as part of an ongoing restructure, with staff having left on July 17. Jason Kemp, who covered Scotland and Northern Ireland, and Wayne Beard, who covered the northwest, confirmed their departures on social media. About 300 jobs across the Saga group are expected to go after a consultation.

UK conferences can

resume from October Conferences and events in the UK can resume from October 1, Boris Johnson announced on Friday. The prime minister stressed plans “remain conditional” and “must be done in a Covid-secure way”. World Travel Market London director Simon Press said “we look forward to welcoming people to London” for the November 2-4 event.

Caledonian Travel to be revived by Rogers

Coach operator Caledonian Travel, which ceased trading when parent Specialist Leisure Group went into administration in May, is to be revived by ex-senior managers. Graham Rogers, former managing director of National Holidays and ex-director of Caledonian Travel and Shearings Group, is leading a a team that has bought the brand and that of

The 500-strong

coach convoy heads for Trafalgar Square

PICTURE: Matt Alexander/PA Wire

PICTURES: Shutterstock

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