OTA TravelUp says it its campaign demanding airlines protect customer money in trust accounts is gathering momentum among MPs and consumers.
The firm’s founder and chief executive Ali Shah has written an open letter to transport secretary Grant Shapps which is it encouraging the UK travel industry to get behind.
Having contacted every MP in Westminster requesting the opportunity to brief them, TravelUp has spoken to five and has six more booked in for after the summer parliamentary recess.
An appeal to consumers to throw their weight behind the campaign has seen 2,000 use a specially created system to contact their MP.
The TravelUp open letter states: “Few sectors have suffered as much as the travel industry over the past few months, with most flights and holidays cancelled because of COVID-19.
“Whilst it was necessary to ground flights, most airlines have taken too long to get money back to customers and travel agents.
“According to one estimate, carriers still owe as much as £7 billion to customers. This has been the source of much anger – and rightly so.”
Shah demands that customer money should be held in a ring-fenced account until the flight departs meaning that refunds when cancellations happen can be made immediately.
He said: “It is completely unacceptable how slow the airlines have been in issuing refunds.
“We have experienced a constant battle trying to get our customers’ money back for cancelled flights.
“That is why we are campaigning for a total reform of the way airlines process the money which travellers have paid for tickets.
“We have written to the Civil Aviation Authority, MPs and ministers to lobby for this change and we are seeking support from industry partners and customers.”
He added: “The CAA needs to be much stricter and look at ways to ensure travellers are not at the mercy of the airlines. We think this would be a great solution.
“We have found the delays over refunds very frustrating and can understand why travellers are so angry too.
“But we need to find a way forward together which solves the refunds issue for good.”
Travel businesses who would like to back the campaign and co-sign the open letter have been urged to get in touch by email on firstname.lastname@example.org