The Aviba association of travel agencies in the Balearics recognises the difficult situation in which agencies find themselves in having to refund payments for flights that have been cancelled and were scheduled for the coming months. The European Commission has said that airlines must refund cancelled flights or offer vouchers.
The association accepts that the airlines are in a delicate position. They want to hang on to payments for fear of going bust. Francesc Mulet, the Aviba president, recommends that travellers accept the vouchers. They can ask for refunds, but payments might not be guaranteed. "The most secure way is to accept vouchers being offered by airlines and be able to fly when the current situation of uncertainty is over."
Mulet says that airlines have been left without liquidity, which makes refunds that much more difficult. He adds that agencies in the Balearics have been receiving numerous calls from customers who want information as to what they should do. He points out that agencies themselves have been affected. Over the first fortnight of March, they were being paid, but once borders started to close, they ceased to be paid.
The airline associations say that they can't deal with payments until some normality is reestablished and are only offering vouchers, therefore ignoring what the European Commission has been demanding.
The agencies are getting no income and so the viability of many is doubtful. "We are experiencing an extraordinary situation. It is affecting the entire tourism value chain - agencies, airlines, service providers."