TUI extends its corona vouchers, Brussels Airlines retains its flexibility
If corona vouchers for canceled package vacations have not resulted in a new booking after one year, the traveler can request a refund. With this extension, TUI is therefore giving its travelers an extra year to make up their minds.
“We will not circumvent the ministerial decree by not answering the question of reimbursement. The extension of the corona voucher is an additional service”, explains Piet Demeyere, spokesperson for tour operator TUI. “People want to go on vacation but wait for travel to become less uncertain.”
Over 200,000 coupons
In the ministerial decree of March 19, 2020, Nathalie Muylle, then Minister of the Economy, had suspended the compulsory reimbursement of canceled package tours. It had become possible to give the traveler a voucher of a value equivalent to the amount of the canceled vacation package. The distribution of so-called “corona” vouchers was applied from March 20 to June 19.
During this period, 210,757 vouchers, with a total value of 356 million euros, were issued. They are valid for at least one year. If the traveler does not convert it into a reservation within one year, he can request a refund. The tour operator will then have six months to do so.
“The cash flow situation of the travel industry has not improved since March of last year, but has deteriorated”, deplores Piet Demeyre. According to him, these six months will be used by different actors as an opportunity not to make immediate payments.
The spokesperson for the tour operator does not want to say whether it will be difficult for TUI to refund these vouchers. “Say now that we see big problems: no, we are assuming that the cash flow situation will improve around the summer.”
He imagines travelers will be eager to take advantage of the extension of their voucher. “It’s a long time to wait six months for the refund. If you’re planning to travel this summer anyway, it’s much easier to hold on to the voucher for a period of time.”
Same story with Brussels Airlines
Brussels Airlines also relies on flexibility. “A lot of people have postponed their trip and continue to do so. We have made it very flexible,” airline spokesperson Kim Daenen said. Anyone who booked a flight before August 31 of last year can rebook it once until May 31, 2021. Those who booked a flight after August 31 can book it indefinitely until May 31, 2021, then again once after that date.
Brussels Airlines therefore hopes that the summer will not be wasted. “We hope that by May 31 the travel restrictions will have been lifted and that customers will know where they can go. That is why it is all the more important that we get some perspective from authorities”, adds Kim Daenen.
This date is not set in stone, however. “To the extent that the crisis lasts longer, this measure may be extended.”