BULLETIN LIBRARY

Managing Director Michael Edwards addresses trade partners of Lime and Aviate, who are affected by current disruptions to travel.

INDEX

1. Introduction
2. Refunds
–  Lime & Aviate Flights via GDS
–  Aviate Flights via BSPLink
–  Lime (British Airways) & Aviate Groups
3. We Are With You
–  Market leading technology
4. Airline policies and news
a  Policy chart and updates
b  Airline partner news

 

INTRODUCTION

Never did I imagine we would be in mid-October, facing new lockdowns and the likelihood of travel being further decimated for months to come – but this is the reality. The new Job Support Scheme lacks teeth for our industry and as there appears no government appetite for sector support, it is going to be a
grim winter.
It is clear we all have our challenges. Having spoken to many of you, it is dark times and its clear we all have to think differently and find new ways of working together for everyone’s benefit. Sadly, in these most difficult of times this is a must rather than a choice for many. I am hoping due to our particular
position, the Travel Innovation Group can invigorate a debate with our tour operator partners to see how – together – we can find new ways to save costs, become more efficient and create revenue. In the next few days, I will follow up with further thoughts and communicate accordingly.
Here at the Travel Innovation Group, we have been restructuring (which sadly has led to a number of redundancies) and maximising efficiencies to ensure we are able to continue to provide you, our customers, with legendary service. That said, please give the team some understanding as we adjust to the new structures, whilst continuing to action refunds and updating you as schedules, flight cancellations, airline policies, etc. unfold. As always we will keep you updated on matters and assure you at the heart of what we do is that We Are With You.
On an encouraging note, many of the airlines that held back refunds have now allowed us to make the claims through the normal GDS channel. This means we have now transacted the back log of refund claims for Emirates, Virgin and Etihad. This current refund cycle’s total value is circa £1.6million, therefore we are working as hard as ever to get these to you by 2 November.
I am also pleased to share more positive news around our technology developments – built to help you and enhance your experience of working with us (section 3) and some airline updates including more flexible policies from key partners in section 4.

 

REFUND PAYMENT CYCLES

Lime and Aviate Flights GDS

To date we have completed 12 refund cycles, with the tables below showing the more recent. We are on track to make our Flights GDS refund payments, due on 2 November including the significant backlog of Emirates, Etihad and Virgin Atlantic refunds as referenced in my introduction.

 

Processed for Refund (email confirmation sent to you by us) Expected Payment date

(from airlines to us)

Refunds paid to Tour Operator (at latest by) Cycle Complete
01 to 16 August 02 September 16 September Yes
17 to 31 August 17 September 1 October Yes
1 to 15 September 2 October 16 October Yes
16 to 30 September 17 October 2 November
1 to 15 October 2 November* 16 November
16 to 31 October 17 November* 2 December

*We will need these clear funds from IATA/the airlines before processing your Refunds to you. Refunds will be made back to the original form of payment.

 

Aviate Flights via BSPLink

This table represents some of our higher volume airlines who are insisting on manually managing refunds via BSPLink. Please be reminded that these payment timescales are an estimate and as evident from the text following the table, are changeable depending on the airline’s circumstances.

Key Airlines Estimated payment from airline to Aviate from processed date (email confirmation sent to you by us) Refunds paid to Tour Operator (at latest by)
SQ/VN 7-9 weeks +2 weeks
WY/UX/TP/MH 6 months +2 weeks
MK 6 months +2 weeks
DY Ad-hoc +2 weeks

Air Mauritius have informed us that they’re not accepting any refunds until December due to finalising their voluntary administration, we anticipate in this case that we can begin to send our email confirmations to you from December for any MK requests that you haven’t had processed up to then.
Unfortunately we have not yet seen any refunds from Norwegian, and do not have an estimate for South African Airways.

 

Lime (British Airways) and Aviate Groups refunds

The below table shows only the most recently completed cycles. All previous cycles have been completed to schedule.

 

Processed for Refund (email confirmation sent to you by us) Expected Payment date (from airline to Lime/Aviate) Refunds paid to Tour Operator (at latest) Cycle Complete
16 to 31 July 24 August 7 September Yes
1 to 16 August 2 September 21 September Yes
17 to 31 August 17 September 7 October Yes
1 to 15 September 2 October 23 October
16 to 30 September 16 October 6 November
1 – 15 October 2 November* 23 November
16 to 31 October 16 November* 7 December

*We will need these clear funds from IATA/the airlines before processing your Refunds to you. Refunds will be made back to the original
form of payment.

 

WE ARE WITH YOU: MARKET LEADING TECHNOLOGY

Innovation is one of our core principles, and a key contributor in our We Are With You difference. Our technology is market-leading as we continue to innovate already unique software to evolve with our users and adapt to our industry. I’d like to share just a sample of the newer or upcoming functions that Flights systems across TIG offer:
API
Our powerful integration offering a fully automated airfare and (selected) ancillaries booking solution to businesses that rely on further systems to manage their wider travel offering. Our single source connection opens up our entire live inventory including hundreds of airline partners and a range of nett fare types across GDS and NDC channels. integrated seamlessly with your bookable website, back or mid-office system – our API provides control from availability to ticketing, booking data, indepth fare rules and product information. We’re currently connected with suppliers such as Dolphin, Anteeo, Inspiretec, Goranga Tech and Penguin, and able to develop to other systems as required. If you’re interested in the increased efficiency and revenue potential that our API solution offers, complete this form or contact Naomi Moizer our Partnership and New Business Manager.

Cache
Some of our customers approached us for distribution solutions that complement their high volume business model. Following several months of development we are now live with our low fare search cache, which enables high-volume searches without losing speed to market. We’d be happy to hear your suggestions on ways that we can support you in growing your flights business – when the opportunity returns that is. Contact Naomi Moizer to discuss your vision or hurdles.

Ticketing robots
Our ticketing robot brings added automation to our ticketing function. At present our GDS users are using an ‘instant ticketing’ robot option which replaces their need to pull bookings into our Flights system for ticketing, with the ability to queue from their own GDS into ours on the day they wish to ticket.
Within the next couple of weeks we will enhance this function for GDS users, offering a ‘scheduled ticketing’ option where ticketing can be queued from their GDS (as with the ‘instant ticketing’ option) far in advance of the Ticket Time Lime TTL. Behind the scenes, the booking is registered by our robot which tickets it within a pre-agreed window before the TTL. This functionality is particularly beneficial to businesses offering an instant purchase model but wishing to take advantage of the airline’s longer deadlines.
Full information on the scheduled ticketing robot for GDS users will be released via email when it is available, followed by a release for non-GDS users shortly after

 

AIRLINE POLICIES AND NEWS

Policy chart and updates

Airline Full refunds permitted

(in circumstances other than airline cancellation/major schedule change)
Refunds via GDS

(as opposed to via BSPLink which can take much longer)
Fare difference covered by airline when rebooking

(if rebooking same cabin to same destination)
Bonus for rebooking Complimentary COVID-19 cover included
Air Canada No Yes No No No
American Airlines No Yes No No No
Air France/KLM Yes Yes Yes Yes No
British Airways No Yes No No No
Delta Air Lines No Yes No No No
Emirates Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Etihad Airways Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Qatar Airways Yes Yes Yes No No
Singapore Airlines No No No Yes No
Virgin Atlantic No Yes Yes No Yes

This table is based on ITX fares. Refer to airline policy pages for further details, COVID-cover and advice on other fares.
British Airways ticket deadline waiver
To assist the trade in this changeable climate, British Airways have replaced Ticket Time Limits (TTLs) on ITX bookings made before 6 October 2020 (due to travel outbound by 14 March 2021) with a delayed ticketing deadline of departure -14 days. Lime were able to adjust our Flights system to manage these new deadlines (a challenge, as the deadline was not reflected in the fare rules) to allow deadline reminders to be generated as usual in our systems. Those of our customers booking in their GDS will need to manage their own deadlines on these waivered bookings.
Review our recent notifications to users with affected bookings here:
Flights system bookers
GDS bookers
We are championing a delayed TTL policy for new bookings with British Airways, we will of course inform you if we are alerted to one.

British Airways policy updates
– Flights (Inclusive Tour, Seat Only, Published fares) – from 9 October 2020, the existing policy that offers a flight change or Exchange Travel Credit has been updated to apply to new bookings created from 3 March 2020 onwards, as opposed to stating an end date. Other criteria applicable,
– Groups – from 29 September, the existing policy now applies to bookings travelling up to 31 March 2021 with non-ticketed bookings now able to cancel up to 30 days prior to departure. See details here.

Virgin Atlantic policy update from 6 October 2020
Rebook for travel has been extended to 31 December 2022, with a waiver for any fare difference for Economy up to £60, Premium up to £120 and Upper up to £350 round-trip. Details found here.

Middle East carriers enhance Book with Confidence measures
Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways have released guidelines on flexibility for ticketed bookings. Details found here.

Oman Air introduce Covid cover
On bookings created from 1 October 2020, the airline will include cover for medical, quarantine and repatriation expenses whilst overseas plus 24:7 assistance to anyone diagnosed with COVID-19 whilst in destination. Details found here.

 

Airline partner news

– Virgin Atlantic announce new services to India
On sale from 20 October 2020, the airline launches a Manchester to Delhi service from 19 December 2020 followed by Manchester – Mumbai on 5 January 2021.
– Virgin Atlantic VFR fares
We now have the full range of VFR which we can offer to tour operators and agents on request. For more details email: sales@vaflightstore.com
– Virgin Atlantic Out of Date Range now on sale for 2022
Confirm flights for Orlando for all dates in 2022 for just £75pp deposit. Bookings taken for all Virgin Atlantic destinations. For quotes email: odr@vaflightstore.com
– New British Airways CEO on pre-departure testing, and his priorities in new role
Previous Aer Lingus boss Sean Doyle was recently announced to have replaced Alex Cruz as CEO of British Airways. In his first address at the Airlines 2051 summit, Sean highlights IATAs recent report into the low risk of COVID-19 spreading via air travel, and supports the calls for pre-departure testing
for passenger assurance amongst other insightful topics. View the CEOs speech here.
– Oman Air cancel Manchester flight
Oman Air have made the decision to suspend their Manchester to Muscat service until further notice. We have applied for refunds on behalf of those customers holding affected bookings.

INDEX

1. Introduction
2. We Are With You
A) Disruption Protection Scheme
B) Portals and Policies
C) Travel Innovation Group Crisis Management Plan (Pandemic Version)
D) Aviate’s Travel Heroes
3. Refunds
–  Lime & Aviate Flights via GDS
–  Aviate Flights via BSPLink
–  Lime (British Airways) & Aviate Groups
4. Forward booking trends
5. Airline news
–  British Airways announces new direct Lahore route
–  Air France-KLM unveils no cost option for passengers not wishing to travel
–  Westjet launches Covid19 insurance

 

INTRODUCTION

Mid-September and rather than the world opening up, there is trepidation as to what destinations will stay open and what may close. I have spoken to many of our customers about the current state-of-play over the last couple of weeks. I think we are all desperate for the government to recognise the turmoil and financial constraints our much-loved industry is operating within.
It appears madness to me that, at this time (6 months in to the worst crisis our industry has faced), we are not yet seeing a joined-up approach from the government ( in terms of quarantine, testing, support) and from the airlines, hotels and ground handlers to give the general public confidence to book foreign travel again. We are an industry that relies upon each other. In normal trading we can live with occasional challenges. However, now we need to find a way to come together with a real understating of each other’s pressures. What we can do together to truly provide a product that customers have confidence in?
Sadly, there does not appear to be an appropriate forum where such issues can be debated and resolved. For our part, as your flights’ provider, we are in constant liaison with the airlines presenting the case on behalf of our tour operators. Aside from a few ‘wins’ , we have not yet seen solid traction and a shift to a more aligned approach. We will keep trying!!
On a more encouraging note, our We Are With You plans have been very well received as positive, practical measures to support you. To further assist, we thought it would be worthwhile sharing our forward booking picture as it does draw positives looking into 2021, as well as other initiatives.

 

WE ARE WITH YOU

Our We Are With You promise is engrained in everything we do and every decision we make. We continue to take steps forward to support you in every way we can.
A) Disruption Protection Scheme
As you are aware, our Ticket Protection Scheme is live. This scheme has been so well received that we are looking to offer an enhanced product covering a wider range of potential travel disruption elements. I would be grateful if you would help us refine a new Disruption Protection Scheme by answering a few quick questions on the issues that cause problems for your business during Covid and during normal trading.
The survey can be found here and can be completed in under 5 minutes

B) Portals and Policies
We have received positive feedback around the way we have communicated with our tour operators during this time. We are pleased that we continue to be your fares provider of choice and the consolidator you trust. We are here to support you when you need it most and to give you the facts you need to confidently sell to your customers. With that in mind, I would like to remind you of the Covid-19 policies comparison chart we created to highlight preferable policies for new bookings, this can be found here.
We continue to update our websites with airline change policies, book with confidence policies, travel requirements, health and safety initiatives and any other key updates. These can be found in dedicated Covid-19 portals linked below:
Lime
Aviate
Virgin Atlantic Flightstore

C) Crisis Management Plan (Pandemic Version)
We recognise that we are an integral partner in support of our customers during any crisis (including a pandemic!). To react swiftly and professionally to a crisis the Travel Innovation Group (Lime and Aviate) has a comprehensive Crisis Management Plan in place to support you. To aid a coordinated response to a disruptive crisis, and as part of our We Are With You promise, we now publish an external summary of our plans so that you are informed of the actions being taken and we can work together for optimum outcomes, which can be found here. We hope that this gives you the confidence to know we are planned and rehearsed to deal with the on-going issues – and if the worst occurs, a second peak and/or lockdown.

D) Aviate’s Travel Heroes
You may have seen our Aviate Travel Heroes campaign launch this week. We wanted to take some time to recognise how tough this year has been for you and we wanted to take this opportunity to spread a little joy to you, our travel heroes and treasured customers. For two weeks, from 28 September, we will be giving away prizes each day, all you have to do is sign up here by 24 September to receive a unique code each day, which will unlock a door on Aviate’s travel heroes beach to see if you’ve won – that’s it. No booking necessary!
Prizes include:
2 x return economy flight tickets for 2021 from Aegean Airlines, Aer Lingus, Etihad Airways, Icelandair, Qatar Airways, TAP Portugal, Turkish Airlines and Virgin Atlantic. Plus a cabin for 2 people onboard one of Virgin Voyages Mediterranean sailings in 2021. Good luck!

 

REFUND PAYMENT CYCLES

Lime and Aviate Flights GDS

To date, we have completed all 11 of our refund cycles to schedule. Due to the number of cycles now completed – going forward we are only showing cycles starting in August 2020 onwards in the below table.

Processed for Refund (email confirmation sent to you by us) Expected Payment date

(from airlines to us)

Refunds paid to Tour Operator (at latest by) Cycle Complete
01 to 16 August 02 September 16 September YES
17 to 31 August 17 September 01 October
1 to 15 September 02 October* 16 October
16 to 30 September 16 October* 02 November

*We will need these clear funds from IATA/the airlines before processing your Refunds to you. Refunds will be made back to the original form of payment.

 

Aviate Flights via BSPLink

Several airlines continue diverting all refunds through BSPLink which, as we have stated previously, adds significant delays into the system and means it takes much longer to refund you than we would like. However, we are pleased to have seen positive movement from some volume airlines – notably; Emirates, Cathay Pacific, Virgin Atlantic, Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines and Air France-KLM have been removed from this BSPLink table as they have now opened up GDS refunds. This means that you will begin to see refunds from these airlines come through to you more quickly. Refunds from these airlines will be issued in line with the refund table in section 3A of this bulletin (in the 16 to 30 September cycle).
The below table represents some of our higher volume airlines who are still insisting on manually managing refunds via BSPLink and outlines estimated payment timescales. The table below is our best estimate based on what we have seen from these airlines so far, however some refunds are falling outside of these predicted timescales. I would like to reiterate that, as part of our We Are With You promise, when refund monies are returned to us by an airline, we act
swiftly to repay you your monies. Rest assured, we are doing what we can and when we are in receipt of the refund – you will be, very shortly afterwards too.

Key Airlines Estimated payment from airline to Aviate from processed date (email confirmation sent to you by us) Refunds paid to Tour Operator (at latest by)
SQ/VN 7-9 weeks +2 weeks
WY/UX/TP/MH 6 months +2 weeks
MK 24 months +2 weeks
DY Ad-hoc +2 weeks

It is worthwhile noting that we are yet to see any refunds authorised by Norwegian or Air Mauritius to date, if this situation changes, we will update you as soon as possible. We are monitoring this situation closely, so we politely request that you do not contact us regarding refunds from these airlines, as unfortunately this is out of our hands.

 

Lime (British Airways) and Aviate Groups refunds

The below table shows only the most recently completed cycle and cycles beginning in September 2020. All previous cycles have been completed to schedule.

Processed for Refund (email confirmation sent to you by us) Expected Payment date (from airline to Lime/Aviate) Refunds paid to Tour Operator (at latest) Cycle Complete
16 to 31 July 24 August 07 September Yes
01 to 16 August 07 September 21 September
17 to 31 August 24 September 08 October
1 to 15 September 02 October* 23 October
16 to 30 September 16 October* 06 November

*We will need these clear funds from IATA/the airlines before processing your Refunds to you. Refunds will be made back to the original
form of payment.

 

Virgin Atlantic GDS refund process explained

Virgin Atlantic reopened refunding via GDS on the 14th September. As of that date we were enabled us to process new refund requests via the GDS. However, the airline did put restrictions in place about processing your existing refunds, the Virgin Atlantic policy stated that we must wait for the refund application in BSPLink to be rejected before processing your refund in the GDS. As the airline only rejected a handful of refunds up until Wednesday 16th September we could only process a very limited number via the GDS for you.
Yesterday, Virgin Atlantic modified this policy and as of 17th September 12:00 we are now able to refund all existing refunds sitting in BSPLink via the GDS instead – this time, without restriction. We are now working through the backlog of BSPLink refunds and will be able to process these back to all our partners by the end of October, in line with the 16-30 September payment cycle outlined in section 3A of this bulletin.

 

FORWARD BOOKING TRENDS

I wanted to take the opportunity to share some of our key forward bookings trends, to provide you with some insight on how the IT leisure market is performing as a whole, and hopefully this will allow you to see how your business is aligning with general booking patterns during this time. I am pleased to say there are some positives.
It seems that since the beginning of September, we are starting to see some more confidence in booking foreign travel. As of 15 September(halfway through the month), we can see that September bookings, if they continue on their current trajectory, should end tracking at +73% on August. For comparison, bookings grew in July by 30% compared to June and in August 3% compared to July. Therefore, if you felt like you had a pretty flat July and August that would fall in line with our market trends and you should be expecting to see a steady increase in bookings made this month.
For bookings made in September so far, the top forward booking departure months are summer 2021. in particular July 2021 is looking enormously strong. The summer period is followed by March and April 2021 (Easter) in terms of booking numbers. We are seeing lower than normal bookings for Christmas departures with December 2020 only the ninth most popular departure month for bookings made this month.
What is interesting to note is October 2020 is our third most highly-ranked departure month going forward (for bookings made this month), so I am confident there is a late booking trend emerging, and given the uncertain situation around quarantine/FCO advice, this is likely to remain for the foreseeable.
Customer confidence in making advance bookings seems to rise for bookings departing from March 2021. With the winter sun season 2020 seeming to struggle the most for securing advance bookings – we hope to see this return, maybe in the form of the aforementioned late booking trend.
Turning our attention to destinations featuring within our forward bookings, below is a list of our top 10 performing destinations, across the group, from an ITX booking perspective.
1. South Africa (significant data attributed to the Lions tour July/August 2021)
2. USA
3. Maldives
4. UAE
5. Canada
6. Italy
7. Barbados
8. Japan (significant data attributed to the Olympics)
9. Mexico
10. Greece

 

AIRLINE NEWS

British Airways announces new direct route to Lahore
British Airways has announced that it will begin flying from London Heathrow to Lahore, Pakistan, four times per week from 12 October 2020. Full details can be found on the Lime website here.

Air France-KLM unveils no-cost option for travellers not wishing to travel
Air France-KLM (AFKL) are now allowing ticketed passengers to voluntarily convert tickets to EMD vouchers. This is a new option for your passengers who may not wish to travel in the next few weeks and months, regardless of if their flight has been cancelled or not. Particularly useful as Air France – KLM hubs are currently on the UK governments quarantine list. This additional flexibility gives your customers more options to retain the value of their ticket, to
rebook within a year of the EMD being created to any AFKL destination worldwide. If the passenger does not use the EMD within 12 months, they are entitled to a full refund once the year lapses.

Westjet launches Covid19 insurance
Westjet have launched Covid19 insurance. For reservations made on or after September 18, Westjet will provide travellers with no-charge COVID-19 travel insurance. Coverage will be automatically applied at no additional charge at the time of booking creation fortravel until August 31, 2021 for up to 21 days.
This follows in the footsteps of Emirates, Etihad Airways and Virgin Atlantic who also offer free of charge Covid19 insurance to their bookings.

INDEX

1. Introduction
2. Refunds
–  Flights
–  BSPLink
–  Lime (British Airways) & Aviate airlines Groups Refunds
3. We Are With You – fulfilling our promise to you
–  Direct Debit Scheme
–  Ticket Protection Scheme
–  Early Ticketing Prompt
– Policies and Regulations Support
4. Virgin Atlantic News
–  Virgin Atlantic accomplishes first step in restructure plans
– Virgin Atlantic Covid-19 Policy Cover
– Virgin Atlantic Refunds
– Virgin Atlantic launches new Pakistan routes
5. Low Cost Airlines Coming Soon

 

INTRODUCTION

Bulletin 13 – unlucky for some? Let’s hope not! We don’t want any more bad luck, do we?
I am not going to begin this bulletin with the phrases we have all become tired of hearing ‘we’re in this together’, ‘there’s light
at the end of the tunnel’, ‘unprecedented circumstances’ and so on. I am sure I am not alone when I say it is hard to
comprehend that we are at the end of August and the Covid-19 situation is still rumbling on. We all hoped that come autumn
(at the latest), we would see something like normality return – this is very clearly not the case. With UK quarantine
requirements, airlines wrestling with their schedules and the erosion of consumer confidence the remainder of the year is
certainly going to be a challenge.
We do carry on though. We are all determined to see our way through this and enjoy success once more.
On a rather selfish note, it is promising that we have seen the return of the more typical British weather thanks to Storms
Ellen and Francis who have battered the UK over the last week or two – so there’s hope our customers will remember that
the British weatheris not always so kind and will start booking foreign travel once more!

 

REFUND PAYMENT CYCLES

Lime and Aviate Flights GDS

We are pleased to confirm, when possible, we are often getting refunds out to you much earlier than the timescales stated
within the tables below. We will continue to work studiously and swiftly as we know how important the refunds are to you. To
reflect on the situation to date, we have now applied for 14,550 refunds to the airlines on your behalf via GDS, to the value of
£25,288,803.

Processed for Refund (email confirmation sent to you by us) Expected Payment date

(from airlines to us)

Refunds paid to Tour Operator (at latest by) Cycle Complete
Up to 15 March 02 April 16 April YES
16 to 31 March 17 April 01 May YES
01 to 15 April 04 May 18 May YES
16 to 30 April 18 May 01 June YES
01 to 15 May 02 June 16 June YES
16 to 31 May 17 June 01 July YES
01 to 16 June 02 July 16 July YES
16 to 30 June 17 July 03 August YES
01 to 15 July 03 August 17 August YES
16 to 31 July 17 August 01 September
01 to 16 August 02 September* 16 September
17 to 31 August 17 September* 01 October

*We will need these clear funds from IATA/the airlines before processing your Refunds to you. Refunds will be made back to the

 

AVIATE FLIGHTS VIA BSPLINK

Regrettably, several airlines continue diverting all refunds through BSPLink which, as we have stated previously, adds
significant delays into the system and means it takes much longer to refund you than we would like. The below table represents
some of our higher volume airlines who are still insisting on manually managing refunds via BSPLink and outlines estimated
paymenttimescales.
Unfortunately, as time has passed, even these estimates for some airlines – or at least some of the refunds from some of these
airlines – are taking even longer. I can categorically confirm that when refund monies are returned to us by an airline, we act
swiftly to repay you your monies. To date since March, we have submitted a total of 7,482 refunds via BSPLink – 52% of these
have now been processed for refund. We also chase / hound / pressure all the airlines with any such outstanding refunds –
some with success and others unfortunately not. We believe we have all been patient enough now – and we share your
frustration. Again, rest assured we are doing what we can and when we are in receipt of the refund – you will be, very shortly
afterwards too.
Please note Etihad Airways (previously included within the table below) have informed us that they will be reopening GDS
refunds at the end of this month – which is some positive news. We are pleased to see that Norwegian are now beginning to
process refunds. Unfortunately, we are yet to see Oman Air action any refunds to date.

Key Airlines Estimated payment from airline to Aviate from processed date (email confirmation sent to you by us) Refunds paid to Tour Operator (at latest by)
EK/SQ/VN/CX 7-9 weeks +2 weeks
VS 120 days +2 weeks
LH 14-16 weeks +2 weeks
WY/UX/TP/TK/MH 6 months +2 weeks
AFKL 12 months +2 weeks
MK 24 months +2 weeks
DY Ad-hoc +2 weeks

 

LIME (BRITISH AIRWAYS) & AVIATE AIRLINES GROUPS REFUNDS

In previous bulletins, we have listed Lime (British Airways) Groups Refunds and Aviate airlines Groups refunds on separate
tables. These have now been brought into the same payment cycle which is detailed below – where only future cycles are
shown. All cycles due for completion by 24 August for either Lime or Aviate Groups have been completed to schedule

 

Processed for Refund (email confirmation sent to you by us) Expected Payment date (from airline to Lime/Aviate) Refunds paid to Tour Operator (at latest) Cycle Complete
16 to 31 July 24 August 07 September
01 to 16 August 07 September* 21 September
17 to 31 August 24 September* 08 October

*We will need these clear funds from IATA/the airlines before processing your Refunds to you. Refunds will be made back to the original
form of payment.

 

WE ARE WITH YOU

At the beginning of August, I wrote about our We Are With You promise, and what this means. We know staying focussed
on practical matters around service with the disruption remains key – and we will continue to do so. I also introduced
some new enhancements we were making this month including Direct Debit Payment Scheme, our Ticket Protection
Scheme (TPS) and Early Ticketing Alert. I am pleased to report that each of these went live this week on Tuesday (25
August).
A quick recap on what these advances mean to you:
A) Direct Debit Payment Scheme:
For those of our Flights account holders who used our direct debit facility previously we have re-introduced direct
debits to make payments easier. Previous users of the direct debit system on Lime, Aviate or Virgin Atlantic Flightstore
will see a combined credit allowance available across all the systems giving you greater flexibility. The new-look
allowance is to be refreshed daily (previously twice weekly) and results in a simpler way to manage your ticketing plus
you benefit from an increased weekly credit total as a result.
A) Ticket Protection Scheme:
The Scheme provides refund cover for all ticketed bookings as well as cover for Repatriation and Curtailment. For Group
bookings the scheme also protects Deposits and Balance payments. We communicated the full details of the scheme
earlier this week, you can view them below:
Lime Flights
Lime Groups
Aviate Flights and Groups
We have auto-enrolled all our customers, unless you have explicitly told us you wish to opt out. So far, the scheme has
been exceptionally well received as this gives you much more peace of mind should an airline failure occur.
C) Early ticketing Alert:
To encourage optimal flexibility of your bookings, we introduced a new alert across our Flights systems which is
triggered when you attempt ticketing earlier than 14 days from the ticketing deadline (TTL). Ticketing early is not
advised, unless for good commercial reasons such as seating, fare locking on some airlines, etc. This alert prompts you to
reconsider when you ticket. Again, this has been well received by you as it gives you much more flexibility should
changes be required pre-ticketing, protects you against cancellation issues and improves your cash-flow position.
D) Policies and Regulations Update
We are here to offer help and support as and when you require it. Over the past four months we have created pages on
our websites to help you keep track of ever-changing policies, travel requirements and health and safety initiatives.
These can be found here:
Lime
Aviate
Virgin Atlantic Flightstore
Our commercial teams have also put together an airline comparison chart which is built to highlight preferable airline
Covid-19 policies for new bookings. This chart can be found here.
Our commercial teams remain on hand to explain any airline policies if they are unclear. For Lime contact disruptionqueries@lime-management.com , for Aviate and Virgin Atlantic Flightstore contact disruptionqueries@aviateworld.com

VIRGIN ATLANTIC NEWS

A) Virgin Atlantic accomplishes first step in restructure plans
As you may have heard, I am pleased to be able to share a positive update from our partner Virgin Atlantic. On 25 August,
Virgin Atlantic reached a significant milestone in safeguarding its future, securing the overwhelming support from their
creditors, including 99% support from trade creditors who voted in favour of their recapitalization plan. The next step is an
English High Court hearing on 2 September to sanction the restructuring plan. The full update from Lee Haslett, Vice
President UK & European Sales can be read here.
A) Virgin Atlantic announces Covid-19 Policy Cover
With the above in mind, Virgin is now clearly looking to the future positively. To enable you to give your customers peace of
mind when they fly Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Atlantic now include a free coronavirus insurance for new and existing
customers. This includes taking care of the health and quarantine costs that arise, should your customers fall ill or experience
difficulties due to Coronavirus. This is for any flight booked using a Virgin Atlantic ticket, departing up until March 31st
2021. Full details of inclusions can be found here.
A) Virgin Atlantic Refunds
For those of you who had Covid affected bookings with Virgin, you will be well aware there has been considerable delays in
Virgin enacting the refund to enable us to repay to yourselves. As I have mentioned in recent previous Bulletins, we have
started receiving these payments from Virgin – and of course as quickly as possible reimbursed our tour operators. We are
aware that some consolidators are withholding Virgin Atlantic refunds due to tour operators. This is not the case with Aviate
and Virgin Atlantic Flightstore.
We are now seeing refunds authorised from Virgin Atlantic every day, and we continue to process these and pay them over to
you, in line with our refund schedule detailed in section 2A of this bulletin. To date, we have requested 1625 refunds from
Virgin Atlantic to the value of £3,319,375. As of 26 August 2020, 809 of these have been fully processed by the airline and
paid over to you, to the value of £1,737,771.
A) Virgin Atlantic launches new Pakistan routes
On 27 August, Virgin Atlantic announced two new routes into Pakistan from London Heathrow and Manchester. New routes
start in December 2020 and will be on sale from September.

 

LOW COST AIRLINES COMING SOON

I am delighted to announce that Aviate will be offering low cost carriers via the booking engine from early October
2020 – I am sure this will add further value to the product offering we provide to you. There will be more updates to
follow in the next bulletin.

INDEX

1. Introduction
2. Refund payment cycles
-Flights GDS
– Aviate Flights BSPLink
– Lime Groups
– Aviate Groups
3. We Are With You initiatives
– Ticket Protection Scheme
– Direct Debit Payment Scheme
– Early ticketing alert
– Airline Covid policy comparison chart
4. Airline partner updates
– British Airways
– Virgin Atlantic
– Thai Airways

 

INTRODUCTION

We recognize this crisis continues to sorely impact the travel industry and therefore, we will remain focused on dealing with the on-going
actions and new repercussions in support of you. We know this is important and will continue to provide focussed service, for as long as it
takes, to remain your favoured partner.
Throughout, I along with many of our managers and the team, have been speaking to you to listen and understand your needs. Over
recent weeks, the conversations have begun to turn toward the future… and what next… and what the Travel Innovation Group can
additionally do to be supportive. Our plan, under our new campaign – We Are With You – is to establish many new initiatives that, having
listened, are designed to ensure we continue to innovate and be the best flight provider for your business. We Are With You needs to be a
constantly evolving plan, with new building blocks added, as circumstances dictate and new matters unfold.
At this time, I can confirm We Are With You includes initiatives such as a new and market leading Ticket Protection Scheme (so your
payments for ticketed flights are protected should an airline failure occur), re-introducing our Direct Debit payment scheme (with better
combined credit and daily transactions), new system functionality to help with re-booking using the airlines’ Exchange Travel Credits, an
informative Airline Covid Policy Comparison chart (so you can readily identify airlines which offer flexibility for new bookings), new system
functionality to help manage your ticketing and protect your cashflow and a published Crisis Management Response Plan (so you can be
confident we are ‘prepared and able’ and promise to handle any future crisis in the best manner for you). Plus many more…
To keep you fully informed we will be communicating our We Are With You plans widely via our websites and eshots. As of this week our
Partnerships team have all returned to the office and will be contacting you in the coming days and weeks to reconnect and brief you
further on our plans. There are more details, below in this Bulletin, however please watch out for our communications and of course do
not hesitate to contact the Partnerships team via partnerships@travelinnovationgroup.com with any queries – or indeed new ideas we can
support you with!
It is important you have the confidence that we are secure for the future too. As a group of companies under the Travel Innovation Group
brand, including Lime and Aviate, we have always managed our finances carefully. We have grown our income every year since our
inception in 2003. We have traditionally retained significant funds ensuring our reserves were maintained at strong levels. Therefore, with
very healthy finances, we have been able to weather the financial consequences of the Covid 19 impact. However, to ensure our financial
stability for the future we engaged Hurst, Corporate Finance Advisors. In their review, Hurst have concluded we “…..have responded very
well to the coronavirus crisis” and have advised us on our financial planning for the future. To protect the business going forward and to
re-establish our available financial resources, as a team including Hurst, our bank, our shareholders and our management we have gained
additional financial security and adjusted the organization to a lower cost base.
We also need to continue to deliver for you. I, as Managing Director, and one of the founder shareholders, will continue to lead the
business on behalf of all the shareholders. All the senior management team have been with the business for over 10 years, aside from our
‘new’ Chief Technology Officer (who joined over 2 years ago) and we have many staff who have also passed the 10 years’ service
milestone. This means together we have many years’ experience and know our customers well. Our values and culture are at the core of
what we do – our Compass. We are as determined as ever to deliver Legendary Service combining our values, our expertise, our system
and technology capabilities – and our innovation.

 

REFUND PAYMENT CYCLES

Lime and Aviate Flights GDS

We’ve now completed on schedule our eighth cycle of Flights (ITX/Seat Only/Published/Cruise) refunds via GDS as per
the schedule below.

Processed for Refund (email confirmation sent to you by us) Expected Payment date

(from airlines to us)

Refunds paid to Tour Operator (at latest by) Cycle Complete
Up to 15 March 02 April 16 April YES
16 to 31 March 17 April 01 May YES
01 to 15 April 04 May 18 May YES
16 to 30 April 18 May 01 June YES
01 to 15 May 02 June 16 June YES
16 to 31 May 17 June 01 July YES
01 to 16 June 02 July 16 July YES
16 to 30 June 17 July 03 August YES
01 to 15 July 03 August 17 August
16 to 31 July 17 August 01 September
01 to 16 August 02 September* 16 September

*We will need these clear funds from IATA/the airlines before processing your Refunds to you. Refunds will be made back to the
original form of payment.

AVIATE FLIGHTS VIA BSPLINK

Several airlines continue diverting all refunds through BSPLink which, unfortunately, adds a significant delays into the
system and takes much longer than we would like. This table represents some of our higher volume airlines who are
insisting on manually managing refunds via BSPLink and payment timescales are an estimate.

Key Airlines Estimated payment from airline to Aviate from processed date (email confirmation sent to you by us) Refunds paid to Tour Operator (at latest by)
EK/EY/SQ/VN 7-9 weeks +2 weeks
VS Ad-hoc +2 weeks
WY/UX/TP/MH 6 months +2 weeks
MK 24 months +2 weeks
DY No refunds authorised to date +2 weeks

We are pleased to note over the last few weeks, that some key airlines have re-opened their GDS for refunding. We have
therefore promptly re-processed any pending refunds with these airlines, which mean the majority will be repaid to you within
the timeframes listed below (that coincide with our Flights GDS refund payments cycles as per section 2.a)
i. AirFrance/KLM – expected refund paid to tour operator: 17 August
ii. Turkish Airlines – expected refund paid to tour operator: 1 September
iii. Lufthansa Group (Austrian Airlines, Lufthansa and SWISS) – expected refund paid to tour operator: 16 September
iv. Emirates – expected refund paid to tour operator: 16 September
Please note with the above situation there are occasional refunds that, for unspecified reasons fail through the GDS refund
process. We report these immediately to the relevant airline and will follow-up in order to process the particular
payment. Therefore there will be odd refunds that may be delayed beyond these dates stated. The good news is the vast
majority are being processed now without hitch.

LIME BRITISH AIRWAYS GROUPS

Group booking cancelled (email confirmation sent to you by us) Expected Payment date (from airline to Lime) For Deposit Paid, Fully Paid & Ticketed Refunds paid to Groups agent (at latest) Cycle Complete
16 to 31 March 30 April 01 June YES
01 to 15 April 15 May 16 June YES
16 to 30 April 29 May 23 June YES
01 to 15 May 12 June 30 June YES
16 to 31 May 26 June 07 July YES
01 to 15 June 10 July* 23 July YES
16 to 30 June 27 July* 10 August
01 to 15 July 10 August* 24 August
16 to 31 July 24 August* 07 September
01 to 16 August 07 September* 21 September

*We will need these clear funds from IATA/the airlines before processing your Refunds to you. Refunds will be made back to the
original form of payment.

AVIATE AIRLINE GROUPS

 

Group booking cancelled (email confirmation sent to you by us) Expected payment date
(from airline to Lime)
For Deposit Paid, Fully
Paid & Ticketed
Refunds paid to
Groups agent
(at latest)
Cycle Complete
16 to 31 March 15 April 01 June YES
01 to 15 April 01 May 16 June YES
16 to 30 April 15 May 23 June YES
01 to 15 May 01 June 30 June YES
16 to 31 May 15 June 07 July YES
01 to 16 June 02 July 23 July YES
16 to 30 June 17 July* 10 August
01 to 15 July 02 August* 24 August
16 to 31 July 24 August* 07 September
01 to 16 August 07 September* 21 September

*We will need these clear funds from IATA/the airlines before processing your Refunds to you. Refunds will be made back to the
original form of payment.

 

WE ARE WITH YOU

As mentioned in my introduction, we are determined to continue to deliver Legendary Service and tailored solutions in
support of you now and as we look toward the future. As part of our planning, we don’t want you to forget that We
Are With You, and we have initiatives in the pipeline that continue to raise the bar and showcase our values of
innovation, trust and value – as the flights supplier of choice for independent and specialist UK Tour Operators and
Group organisers.
a. Ticket Protection Scheme
This will be launched 25 August for any new tickets from that date. The Scheme will provide refund cover for ticketed
bookings as well as cover for Repatriation and Curtailment. We will communicate the information with more detail
from next week and are recommending your participation. However, should you wish not to then we will opt you out
of the scheme. More information to follow next week.
b. Direct Debit Payment Scheme
For those of our Flights account holders who used our direct debit facility previously, I’m pleased to confirm on week
commencing 25 August we will be re-introducing direct debits to make payments easier.
Previous users of the direct debit system on Lime, Aviate or Virgin Atlantic Flightstore will see a combined credit
allowance available across all of the systems. The new-look allowance will be refreshed daily (previously twice weekly)
and will result in a simpler way to manage your ticketing and an increased weekly credit total as a result.
c. Early ticketing alert
To encourage optimal flexibility of your bookings, we are introducing a new alert across our Flights systems which is
triggered when ticketing earlier than 14 days from the ticketing deadline (TTL). Ticketing early is not advised, unless for
good commercial reasons such as seating, fare locking on some airlines, etc.. This alert prompts you to reconsider
when you ticket.
d. Airline Covid policy comparison chart
A reminder that our websites (Lime and Aviate) feature summaries of respective airline disruption policies, as well as
links to the complete policy. The summaries whilst proving helpful at the time of disruption, will be an aide as you
begin creating more new bookings, whereby you and your client want the most flexibility.
We have summarised disruption policies across our 10 highest volume carriers overleaf, including in the event of
ongoing or a future Covid disruption scenario whether they currently refund to us via GDS (which is the faster
method) or BSPlink (that can take much more time)….

 

Airline Original outbound travel dates Fare difference on new booking, in the same cabin? Travel voucher available Airline bonus for rebooking? Full refunds permitted?
Air Canada 01MAR20 – 30JUN21 Yes Yes, valid for travel up to 24 months after the date of flight cancellation by AC No Yes (only if flights are cancelled), via GDS
American Airlines 01MAR20 – 30SEP20 Yes Yes, for travel until 31DEC21 No Yes (only if flights are cancelled by AA), via GDS
Air France/KLM 04MAR20 – 30JUN21 No fare difference to same destination & must start travel before 30NOV20. All other conditions fare/tax difference applies Yes, reissue by 30JUN21 No Yes (only if flights are cancelled), via GDS
British Airways 14MAR20 – 30SEP20 Yes Yes, for travel until 30APR22 No Yes (only if flights are cancelled by BA), via GDS
Delta Air Lines 25FEB20 – 30SEP20 No fare difference, if reissued before 30SEP20 Yes, travel until 31MAY22 No Yes (only if flights are cancelled), via GDS
Emirates 12MAR20 – 30NOV20 No fare difference, unless the new booking is to a different destination Yes, ticket can be kept open 760 days from the date of original ticket issuance No Yes (only if flights are cancelled, travel ban, lockdowns), via GDS
Ethiad Airways 13MAR20 – 30NOV20 Yes, unless travelling before 30NOV20 Yes, book before 30NOV20 to travel until 31OCT21 Yes. See EY policy for details Yes (only if flights are cancelled), via BSP
Qatar Airways 12MAR20 – 31DEC20 No, if travel until 31DEC20 Yes Yes. See QR policy for details Yes (only if flights are cancelled or travel ban) non refundable taxes remain no refundable, via GDS
Singapore Airlines 24JAN20 – 31AUG20 Yes Yes, travel until 31DEC21 Yes. See SQ policy for details Yes, via GDS
Virgin Atlantic 01MAR20 – 31DEC20 No fare difference, if travel is completed by 30NOV20 Yes, travel until 30SEP22 No Yes (only if flights are cancelled by VS), via BSP

 

KEY AIRLINE NEWS

a. British Airways new route and increased services
As British Airways services recommence, Lime’s website contains a clear visual of the destinations (by airport code) that
BA are flying to, plus further sources to check weekly frequencies and safety while travelling information. Full
information here >
b. Virgin Atlantic status
Virgin Atlantic has moved into the next phase of its recapitalization programme with court filings in both the UK & US.
The Chapter 15 filing in the US is a procedural application to allow the US courts to recognise the restructuring
process.
The next key date is 25 August when creditors will sign off the 5 year business plan, which already has the support of
the Virgin Group, Delta Air Lines, and US hedge funds, and includes a refinancing package worth £1.2bn over the next
18 months.
All bookings and tickets continue to be valid and are unaffected by this process. Indeed the airline continues to
reinstate its flying programme with services recommencing to New York, Los Angeles, Barbados and Hong Kong.
We will keep you updated on all developments over the coming weeks.
c. Thai Airways remove ITX and Seat Only fare content
Due to their ongoing restructure THAI have withdrawn all their existing Nett Fares, including IT and Seat Only content
from the UK market.
All partners will still be able to book THAI at revised Published Fare levels through the Aviate system, which
are available from 06AUG20.
THAI will honour existing ITX and Seat Only ticketed bookings – including disruption rebookings relating to
Coronavirus – which will be priced as per the backdated ITX or Seat Only fares.

1. Introduction

As we begin to emerge from the coronavirus crisis, I wanted to reiterate that We Are With You, now and into the future.  We have been with you every step of the way through the biggest challenge to ever face our industry and we have shared all the tests you have experienced over the last few months.  From the outset, we knew it was crucial to maintain our focus and act in the best interest of our customers.  Your loyalty is immensely important to us, we understand the pressures you endured and we have tried our hardest to be a positive part of the situation and help solve the problems you faced… and continue to face.

The removal of blanket FCO advice against all non-essential travel at the weekend, was welcomed by our industry and with the relaxation of quarantine rules expected on  Friday, hopefully we can embark on the journey to rebuild our much loved industry.

I also wanted to share an anecdotal view of the situation as we experienced it; I am sure much of this will resonate with you;

The Coronavirus situation quickly evolved into the single most significant challenge the travel industry has faced. We initiated our Crisis Management Plan and spent long, long days in our newly named ‘Situation Room’. As best we could, with an ever-growing list of closed borders, travel bans and grounded flights – we adapted and repatriated thousands of passengers, we delivered on our deadlines and refunded to schedule whilst we decamped to work from our homes.

We sent you endless airline updates, deciphered their often-very-hard-to-understand policies and communicated service levels with you widely. We innovated our processes to help you, we’re pretty sure we made mistakes along the way, we shed tears, we laughed in the face of adversity and appreciated (and continue to appreciate) your support – your thanks has made us smile.

We have also – become adept at using Teams and Zoom,  learnt what furlough means, home-schooled…(a bit), cursed our home Wi-Fi provider, we have been frustrated and occasionally lost our sense of humour and ‘some’ of us drank too much. But, through all of this we never forgot you were going through the same and that we needed to help you.

Now we look to the future, we want to continue to be your specialist consolidator, your consolidator of choice. We want you to choose us – Lime and Aviate – because we are a partner that you can be proud of, trust and recommend.  Therefore, we will shortly be introducing a series of new We Are With You initiatives which we hope will help you to recover and succeed once more – more information to follow in my next Bulletin.

2. Refunds – Flights

Our most recent cycle (1 July) was successfully completed as per the schedule below.  Refunds will be made back to the original form of payment.

FLIGHTS REFUND TIMELINE

Processed for Refund (email confirmation sent to you by us) Expected Payment date

(from airlines to us)

Refunds paid to Tour Operator (at latest by) Cycle Complete
Up to 15 March 02 April 16 April YES
16 to 31 March 17 April 01 May YES
01 to 15 April 04 May 18 May YES
16 to 30 April 18 May 01 June YES
01 to 15 May 02 June 16 June YES
16 to 31 May 17 June 01 July YES
01 to 16 June 02 July 16 July
16 to 30 June 17 July* 03 August
01 to 15 July 03 August* 17 August

*We will need these clear funds from IATA/the airlines before processing your Refunds to you

AVIATE REFUNDS VIA BSPLINK

Key Airlines Estimated payment date (from airlines to Aviate) from submission date Refunds paid to Tour Operator (at latest)
EK/EY/SQ/VN/CX 7-9 weeks +2 weeks
VS 12-16 weeks +2 weeks
LH 14-16 weeks +2 weeks
WY/UX/TP/TK/MH 6 months +2 weeks
AFKL 12 months +2 weeks
MK 24 months +2 weeks
DY No refunds authorised to date +2 weeks

Some airlines are diverting all refunds through BSPLink which, unfortunately, can take much longer than we would like.  However, we are starting to see some BSP refunds coming through.  If for example, the submission was in early April then for some airlines like Emirates, Etihad, Singapore, Vietnam, and Cathy Pacific, you will have seen these repayments start to come through over the past couple of weeks. Notably, to-date we have not seen any BSPLink refunds come through to us from Norwegian, Oman Air or Air France.

To give some further insight, on the previous BSP payment cycle on 16 June, we had received 87 PNR refunds in via BSPLink which have since been paid over to you. On the current BSPLink payment cycle (received 02 July), we have 386 PNR refunds which will be remitted to you by 17 July. We can also see other PNRs have been approved for the next payment cycle (due to us on 17 July and to you by 03 August) which hopefully reflects a gathering momentum – although it should be noted that the majority of BSPLink refunds, received to date are from Emirates and Virgin Atlantic.

3. Refunds – Groups

Our most recent groups payment cycle (7 July) will be completed today as per the schedules below.  Refunds will be made back to the original form of payment.  A list of airlines and their refund methods can be found here (see column Full Refunds Permitted).

LIME (BRITISH AIRWAYS) GROUPS REFUND TIMELINE

Processed for Refund (email confirmation sent to you by us) Expected Payment date

(from British Airways to Lime)

Refunds paid to Tour Operator (at latest by) Cycle Complete
16 to 31 March 30 April 01 June YES
01 to 15 April 15 May 16 June YES
16 to 30 April 29 May 23 June YES
01 to 15 May 12 June 30 June YES
16 to 31 May 26 June 07 July YES
01 to 16 June 10 July* 23 July
16 to 30 June 27 July* 10 August
01 to 15 July 10 August* 24 August

This timeline covers Group booking in all their various stages – deposited, fully paid (not ticketed) and ticketed.  *Dates are based on British Airways payment for refunds and presume monies are refunded to Lime in line with this cycle.

AVIATE AIRLINE GROUPS REFUND TIMELINE

Processed for Refund (email confirmation sent to you by us) Expected Payment date

(from  Airline to Aviate)

Refunds paid to Tour Operator (at latest by) Cycle Complete
16 to 31 March 15 April 01 June YES
01 to 15 April 01 May 16 June YES
16 to 30 April 15 May 23 June YES
01 to 15 May 01 June 30 June YES
16 to 31 May 15 June 07 July YES
01 to 16 June 02 July 23 July
16 to 30 June 17 July* 10 August
01 to 15 July 02 August* 24 August

Our most recent groups payment cycle (7 July) will be completed today as per the schedules above.

This timeline covers Group bookings in all their various stages – deposited, fully paid (not ticketed) and ticketed.  *Dates are based on IATA payments for GDS refunds and monies are refunded to Aviate by IATA in line with this cycle.    Refunds which require airline authorisation (via BSPLink or other offline method) fall outside of this process and will take longer.

4. Group Bookings departing in July

On 29 June, we sent a communication to all of our customers regarding any passengers booked to depart in July.

As airlines are starting to recommence services, we cannot assume that all bookings are to be either postponed or cancelled, we are aware that some of your customers will be keen to travel.   We strongly recommend that you review each July departing booking and manage in line with the airline’s current policy.  These can be found on the relevant website: LimeAviateVirgin Atlantic Flightstore.

Any booking left Live (HK status) in which the flights operate will be registered as a No-Show by the airline and will have no further value for re-issue or fare refund.

5. Partner News

A. British Airways July Flying Programme

British Airways have released their intended services for July and into early August, with 60% of their short and long-haul network returning to operation – albeit with reduced frequencies.

The rollout of resumed services for July can be found via Lime’s website, along with full guidance on what the airline is doing to protect passengers, and what passengers need to do in order to travel safely.

We expect to hear on British Airways August/September services shortly. Please do keep up to date with publications to Lime’s website for this information, as well as your inbox for emailed updates.

B. Airlink: Re-accommodation completed

Airlink is pleased to advise that is has completed the re accommodation of all Airlink bookings ticketed on South African Airways (SA) onto pure Airlink (4Z) tickets, issued on/after 6 December 2019.

For customers wishing to rebook their travel on Airlink who previously held an SA ticket and were unable to do so please contact info@aviateworld.com with the relevant details such as PNR, Passenger names, original 083 ticket numbers routing and new dates of travel.

For more details please read.

C. AeroMexico enter Chapter 11

The airline will continue flying and all tickets, reservations, and electronic vouchers (Exchange Travel Credits) will remain valid.  AeroMexico intends to use the Chapter 11 process to strengthen its financial position and implement necessary operational changes.

  • Introduction
  • Refunds – Flights
  • Refunds – Groups

– Aviate Groups

– Lime (British Airways)

  • Refunds – BSP
  • Partner News
  • British Airways extends Book with Confidence Policy
  • British Airways return to flying
  • Cathay Pacific agrees £4bn bail out
  • Virgin Atlantic announces return to Flying
  • Virgin Atlantic update their Covid-19 flexibility policy
  • Virgin Voyages postpone first sailing
  • Forward Booking Trends
  • Looking forward

INTRODUCTION

I hope you are continuing to find these bulletins useful and informative.  Thank you for your continued support and kind messages that we have received over the past few weeks and months.  I want to take some time to share some figures with you; to equip you with a deeper insight into the level of disruption the Travel Innovation Group has experienced over recent months.  I hope these figures demonstrate our commitment to you – our customers, and our morality as a business.

To date, we have achieved each of the deadlines we have published for each refund cycle – for flights and groups.

At a glance:

  • 651 airline policy updates
  • 11,795 refund requests sent to airlines
  • £13,554,713 worth of refunds paid over to our customers to date
  • Over 2000 Exchange Travel Credits processed

We still have much more to do and we will continue to stay focused, communicating with you along the way.

Moving on to industry news, we are already starting to see an increase in communications from our airline partners relating to cabin cleanliness, cleaning procedures and enhanced health and safety onboard.  Rather than notifying you of each one of these procedures for each of our airline partners, we have created a dedicated page within our Covid-19 portal where each of these procedures will be published – you can view them here.  I would like to reassure you that we do not deal with any airline that is not compliant with Health and Safety regulations, therefore you can work on the basis that all of our airlines are as safe as possible for your customers.

In addition to airline-specific updates, the government has now released some health and safety advice in relation to air travel – which can be found on the government website here.

Another useful tool is the introduction of the interactive world map from IATA which provides you and your customers with the latest Covid-19 entry regulations by country. The service is free to use and is updated over 200 times per day.  If passengers are looking at travelling imminently this is particularly useful to quickly confirm if any restrictions are currently in place – either when transiting or entering a country.  The IATA map is viewable here.

REFUNDS: FLIGHTS

Our most recent cycle (16 June) will be completed today as per the schedule below.  Refunds will be made back to the original form of payment.

Processed for Refund (email confirmation sent to you by us) Expected Payment date

(from airlines to us)

Refunds paid to Tour Operator (at latest by) Cycle Complete
Up to 15 March 02 April 16 April YES
16 to 31 March 17 April 01 May YES
01 to 15 April 04 May 18 May YES
16 to 30 April 18 May 01 June YES
01 to 15 May 02 June 16 June YES
16 to 31 May 17 June* 01 July
01 to 16 June 02 July* 16 July
16 to 30 June 17 July* 03 August

*We will need these clear funds from IATA/the airlines before processing your Refunds to you


REFUNDS: GROUPS

LIME BRITISH AIRWAYS GROUPS REFUND TIMELINE

Our most recent groups payment cycle (16 June) will be completed today as per the schedules below.  Refunds will be made back to the original form of payment.  A list of airlines and their refund methods can be found here (see column Full Refunds Permitted).

Processed for Refund (email confirmation sent to you by us) Expected Payment date

(from British Airways to Lime)

Refunds paid to Tour Operator (at latest by) Cycle Complete
16 to 31 March 30 April 01 June YES
01 to 15 April 15 May 16 June YES
16 to 30 April 29 May 23 June
01 to 15 May 12 June 30 June
16 to 31 May 26 June* 07 July
01 to 16 June 10 July* 23 July
16 to 30 June 27 July* 10 August

This timeline covers Group booking in all their various stages – deposited, fully paid (not ticketed) and ticketed.  *Dates are based on British Airways payment for refunds and presume monies are refunded to Lime in line with this cycle.

AVIATE AIRLINE GROUPS REFUND TIMELINE

Processed for Refund (email confirmation sent to you by us) Expected Payment date

(from British Airways to Lime)

Refunds paid to Tour Operator (at latest by) Cycle Complete
16 to 31 March 15 April 01 June YES
01 to 15 April 01 May 16 June YES
16 to 30 April 15 May 23 June
01 to 15 May 01 June 30 June
16 to 31 May 15 June 07 July
01 to 16 June 02 July* 23 July
16 to 30 June 17 July* 10 August

This timeline covers Group bookings in all their various stages – deposited, fully paid (not ticketed) and ticketed.  *Dates are based on IATA payments for GDS refunds and monies are refunded to Aviate by IATA in line with this cycle.    Refunds which require airline authorisation (via BSPLink or other offline method) fall outside of this process and will take longer.

AVIATE REFUNDS VIA BSPLINK

Key Airlines Estimated payment date (from airlines to Aviate) from submission date Refunds paid to Tour Operator (at latest)
EK/EY/SQ/VN/CX 7-9 weeks +2 weeks
VS 12-16 weeks +2 weeks
LH 14-16 weeks +2 weeks
WY/UX/TP/TK/MH 6 months +2 weeks
AFKL 12 months +2 weeks
MK 24 months +2 weeks
DY No refunds authorised to date +2 weeks

This means for BSPLINK refund claims, if for example, the submission was in early April then for Emirates, Etihad, Singapore, Vietnam, and Cathy Pacific, you will start to see repayments shortly – with some having already been refunded.  The later the submission, of course, the later the repayment dates. The greater the predicted delay from the airline then the timelines are more dubious.

PARTNER NEWS

British Airways update their Book with Confidence Policy

British Airways released v9 of their Book with Confidence Policy – effective from 10 June 2020.  Changes included extending the policy for bookings ticketed any time, for travel (outbound or inbound) between 14 March and 31 August 2020 (previously 31 July 2020).    The policy was also extended for new bookings made between 03 March and 31 August 2020 (previously 31 July 2020) for travel up to and completed by 30 April 2021 (previously 31 December 2020).

British Airways return to flying

British Airways have announced they are to start flying their short haul network with effect from 01 July 2020.  Seats are now on general sale.  This will be a phased approach meaning that not all usual weekly/daily flights are on a consistent schedule initially whilst services will resume to serve as many destinations as possible.  From 16 July short haul services will be increased further to provide a more regular flying schedule.  Long haul routes are being expanded upon from mid-July onwards with increasing services being added each week to various destinations, including the Caribbean, Indian Ocean and the USA amongst others.   For all British Airways news visit the Lime website here

Cathay Pacific agrees £4bn bailout

A HK$39 billion (£4 billion) state bailout of Cathay Pacific has been agreed.  The Hong Kong government will take a 6% stake in Cathay Pacific and can have two observers on its board as part of the recapitalisation plan. This plan will inject liquidity back into the business, putting the carrier in a better position to strongly compete in the future.

Virgin Atlantic announce return to flying

Last week, Virgin Atlantic announced their return to flying will begin on 20 July 2020, by starting to fly to Orlando, New York – JFK, Los Angeles, Shanghai, and Hong Kong.  More destinations will be added to their flying schedule in August.  All Virgin Atlantic announcements will be available on our news page here.

Virgin Atlantic update their Covid-19 Flexibility Policy

Virgin Atlantic updated their Covid-19 Flexibility Policy on 12 June.  Main updates include; now allowing up to 2 date changes with fees waived, one name charge free of charge, and the extension of the new booking policy to cover original travel to 30 April 2021.  For those travelling through 30 September 2020, Virgin Atlantic now offer the same guidance regardless of ticket issue date.  For full information read the update here

Virgin Voyages postpone first sailing

At the beginning of 2020, we launched Voyage Store – we are Virgin Voyages selected partner for distributing Virgin Voyage packages to the UK trade. Given the current situation, Virgin Voyages have made the decision to further postpone their first sailing until 16 October 2020, you can read the full article here

FORWARD BOOKING TRENDS

We thought it would be useful to share some insight into forward booking trends from our partner Skyscanner – this data is based on searches over a 10-day period in May 2020 where over 2.6 million searches were undertaken. Consumers are still actively searching and forward planning for international travel, and we are starting to see some green shoots across the board – 48 from the top 100 destinations are long-haul destinations.

Top 10 departure months:

  1. August 2020
  2. September 2020
  3. December 2020
  4. October 2020
  5. April 2021
  6. March 2021
  7. November 2020
  8. May 2021
  9. February 2021
  10. January 2021

Top 10 Long haul destinations:

  1. Bangkok
  2. Orlando
  3. New York
  4. Dubai
  5. Bali
  6. Las Vegas
  7. Miami
  8. Sydney
  9. Los Angeles
  10. Cancun

Other highly searched long-haul destinations (outside of the top 10) Include Tokyo, Singapore, Phuket, Cape Town, Melbourne, Colombo, Maldives, Mauritius, Vancouver, and Saigon.

The below table shows the top 10 forward departure months – based on booking data from across our group – Lime, Aviate and Virgin Atlantic Flightstore.

Top 10 departure months:

  1. April 2021
  2. March 2021
  3. February 2021
  4. December 2020
  5. July 2020
  6. October 2020
  7. January 2021
  8. May 2021
  9. November 2020
  10. September 2020

Top 10 destinations:

  1. Greece
  2. USA
  3. South Africa
  4. UAE
  5. Maldives
  6. Australia
  7. Japan
  8. Thailand
  9. Canada
  10. Barbados

Particularly promising is an upturn in searches and bookings across our group’s revenue streams.  Below figures are based on a comparison from second week in May 2020 v second week of June 2020.

  • Website searches have increased by +61% across the group
  • New passengers booked have increased by +79% across the group

There is still a long way to go, but these are promising figures which we predict to continue rising over coming weeks and months.

LOOKING FORWARD

It is important that we – the Travel Innovation Group as a whole including Lime, Aviate and Calrom (our software development division)- now start to cement our plans for the future.  These plans will ensure that we are in the optimal position to fully support you when we see more bookings begin to return.

Service – We are reviewing our service capabilities and will be introducing new policies and measures to further enhance our delivery of service to you.

Direct Debits – We will shortly be re-introducing this payment method with new combined credit allowances so you have a single credit that can be used for bookings across Lime, Aviate and Virgin Atlantic Flightstore.

API technology – We have now launched our new Travel Innovation Group API for automated communication of our fares into your own system. If you would like to discuss the options available, please feel free to contact sales@travelinnovationgroup.com

System upgrades – As covered in previous bulletins, we’ve made a number of enhancements (some of the below to go live this month) to our online booking system, these have been built to give you greater control over your bookings and the new features you need given the current situation.  They include:

  • Streamlining the use of Covid-19 Exchange Travel Credits, allowing you to request ticketing on ETC bookings from within your account.
  • Schedule Change Robot provides you with a more efficient way of handling affected bookings.

New system functions to be introduced :

New 14-day Pre-Ticketing Deadline control – so that you are reminded not to ticket unnecessarily too early. (coming in July)

Auto ticketing – Our new auto-ticketing function will allow all of our customers to schedule payment and ticketing in ‘X’ number of days prior to the ticketing deadline for bookings.  Our systems will then automatically do this for you on the calculated date.

Low Cost Carrier fares – We will be introducing new functionality to enable bookings on Low Cost Carriers, including many UK short haul carriers and those operating in and between many destinations.

Groups Marketplace – This will enable your ad-hoc booking enquiries to be lodged more efficiently and enable us to better search airlines for your best group options.

Airline Failure Insurance – We are discussing options with underwriters to offer a new safeguard policy to protect against airline failure.

Exporting Bookings – The option to export your bookings into an excel document from our booking engine.

We would like to start conversations with our customers to discover how we can enhance what we do to best meet your requirements in the future, therefore if you would like to make any suggestions then please do so by emailing sales@travelinnovationgroup.com or by contacting me via the 1-2-1 meeting request form, accessible here.

1 June 2020

  1. Introduction
  2. Refunds – Flights
  3. Refunds – Groups
  4. Refunds – BSP
  5. Exchange Travel Credit – Recap and System Enhancements
  6. Airline News
  1. Introduction

 

In this bulletin, I have chosen to recap on what are the key focal points for our customers, Refund timelines, Exchange Travel Credits and airline news.

In key news this week, we have heard that Rishi Sunak has authorised a bailout plan ‘Project Birch’ to save companies whose demise would disproportionately harm the UK economy.  Aviation has been listed as one of those industries that may benefit from Project Birch, and we hope this signals more positive news for our industry.

I am also very pleased to remind you that our office is open again, we have had a number of our staff back in the office in Chester over the past couple of weeks.  We have put social distancing measures in place to ensure the team’s safety.  All our phone lines are now open between 09:00 – 17:30. Although our preferred contact method remains via email where our team is available 08:00 – 19:00 weekdays and 09:00 – 15:00 Saturdays too.

  1. Refunds – Flights

I am pleased to confirm the most recent refund cycle (01 June) will be completed today as per the schedule below.

It is important to note that we must make all refund payments back onto the original form of payment.  If the original form of payment was via Credit/Debit card, we cannot guarantee when this will appear on your statement as this is dependent on your card merchant.

Processed for Refund (email confirmation sent to you by us) Expected Payment date

(from airlines to us)

Refunds paid to Tour Operator (at latest by) Cycle Complete
Up to 15 March 02 April 16 April YES
16 to 31 March 17 April 01 May YES
01 to 15 April 04 May 18 May YES
16 to 30 April 18 May 01 June YES
01 to 15 May 02 June* 16 June
16 to 31 May 17 June* 01 July
01 to 15 June 02 July* 16 July
16 to 30 June 17 July* 03 August

*We will need these clear funds from IATA/the airlines before processing your Refunds to you.

  1. Refunds – Groups

As outlined in my last Bulletin, Group refund policies vary airline to airline, and many airlines have updated their policies as the situation evolves.  Your individual groups terms will have been confirmed to you at the point of cancellation.

Many airlines are forcing refunds offline via BSPLink, which will significantly slow down the rate at which they will refund.  Some airlines are not even dealing with Groups refunds currently, making it impossible for us to estimate timelines. We are protesting vigorously to resolve these issues.

A list of airlines and their refund methods can be found here (see column Full Refunds Permitted).

Particularly relevant to Groups, please note that we must make all refund payments back onto the original form of payment.  If the original form of payment was via Credit/Debit card, we cannot guarantee when this will appear on your statement as this is dependent on your card merchant.

Lime (British Airways) Group Refund Timeline

Processed for Refund (email confirmation sent to you by us) Expected Payment date

(from British Airways to Lime)

Refunds paid to Tour Operator (at latest by) Cycle Complete
16 to 31 March 30 April 01 June YES
01 to 15 April 15 May 16 June
16 to 30 April 29 May 23 June
01 to 15 May 12 June* 30 June
16 to 31 May 26 June* 07 July
01 to 15 June 10 July* 23 July
16 to 30 June 27 July* 10 August

This timeline covers Group booking in all their various stages – deposited, fully paid (not ticketed) and ticketed.  *Dates are based on British Airways payment for refunds and presume monies are refunded to Lime in line with this cycle.

Aviate Airline Group Refund Timeline (including Virgin Atlantic Flightstore)

Processed for Refund (email confirmation sent to you by us) Expected Payment date

(from airlines to Aviate)

Refunds paid to Tour Operator (at latest by) Cycle Complete
16 to 31 March 15 April 01 June YES
01 to 15 April 01 May 16 June
16 to 30 April 15 May 23 June
01 to 15 May 01 June 30 June
16 to 31 May 15 June* 07 July
01 June to 15 June 02 July* 23 July
16 June to 30 June 17 July* 10 August

This timeline covers Group bookings in all their various stages – deposited, fully paid (not ticketed) and ticketed.  *Dates are based on IATA payments for GDS refunds and monies are refunded to Aviate by IATA in line with this cycle.

Refunds which require airline authorisation (via BSPLink or other offline method) fall outside of this process and will take longer.

  1. Aviate Refunds via BSPLink

As stated above, refunds via BSPLink fall outside of our usual refund schedules. This process is much longer than we would like as it is wholly reliant on airlines manually authorizing each ticket via online applications. With many airlines furloughing staff these applications are being processed very slowly, if at all.  To try and give you the upmost visibility, we have put together the below table. These timescales are based purely on our current experience from the 5,600 we have submitted so far, and from indications given by certain airlines of when these will be addressed.

The date of submission to the relevant airline will be as per the date of our Refund email response to you. Group refunds will vary and may take longer.

Key Airlines Estimated payment date (from airlines to Aviate) from submission date Refunds paid to Tour Operator (at latest)
EK/EY/SQ/VN/CX 7-9 weeks + 2 weeks
VS 12- 16 weeks + 2 weeks
LH 14-16 weeks + 2 weeks
WY/UX/TP/TK/MH 6 months + 2 weeks
AFKL 12 months + 2 weeks
MK 24 months + 2 weeks
DY No refunds authorised to date + 2 weeks

This means for BSPLINK refund claims, if for example, the submission was in early April then for Emirates, Etihad, Singapore, Vietnam, and Cathy Pacific, we should repay these to you from mid-June.  The later the submission, of course, the later the repayment dates. The greater the predicted delay from the airline then the timelines are more dubious.

  1. Exchange Travel Credits – Recap and System Enhancements

We all would prefer for our clients to rebook rather than refund, so I wanted to take this opportunity to cover Exchange Travel Credits (ETCs) again.  As many of you will know, airlines have put policies in place to allow this by turning the clients original ticket into an Exchange Travel Credit (sometimes in the form of an EMD).

Airline policies can be found here:

Lime (British Airways)

Aviate

Virgin Atlantic Flightstore

If your clients are happy to accept an ETC then you simply need to login to your original booking via your Lime, Aviate or Virgin Atlantic Flightstore account

To convert a booking into an Exchange Travel Credit under each airline’s policy

  • Make note of the original PNR and e-ticket numbers for future reference when you come to rebook, also ensure you are clear on the expiry date of the ETC
  • Use the ‘Disruption Cancellation’ button in the ‘Display Booking’ screen within the booking (this function will remove the original sectors in the booking but keep the e-ticket open).

To redeem the Exchange Travel Credit

  • Create a new booking in the usual manner
  • Once the new itinerary is chosen, click the ‘Disruption Booking’ button
  • A pop-up box will appear requesting the original e- ticket numbers to be added to each passenger (the system requires the full 13-digit ticket number without the hyphen).  Ensure the correct original e-ticket number is added to the relevant passenger
  • Click ‘Book’ on the pop-up box
  • When ready to ticket these bookings, from the booking display page use the new ‘Request, Price & Ticket’ button

Accepting and redeeming the Exchange Travel Credit via your GDS

To our customers who use Sabre, Galileo or Worldspan to make your bookings we recommend the following actions to secure Exchange Travel Credit. For Amadeus customers, the above process via our systems should be used.

  • Cancel the flight itinerary
  • Add in a Retention line
  • End transaction – this will ensure the value held in your e-tickets is not lost should flights go into No Show state
  • Rebook new dates in same PNR when your customer is ready
  • Request ticketing directly with our Customer Support team as per the below contact details

Customer support

0151 350 1110
info@aviateworld.com

As airline policies can change at any time, we strongly recommend that you request ticket issue on your new booking as soon as created. We are sorry but we cannot be held responsible if subsequently an airline changes a policy – although as always, we will work with you in an attempt to resolve individual issues.

Retention line entries:

Worldspan: TNZZMK1MIS20DEC/AN-RETENTION SEGMENT (1 means number of passengers, 20Dec is the live until date)

Sabre: 0OTHAAGK1MIA20DEC-RETENTION LINE

Galileo: RT.T /DATE*KEEP BOOKING LIVE

Note: If you do not follow these procedures then your ETC may be forfeited

  1. Airline News

A. SA Airlink reaches agreement with South African Airways on re-accommodation of South African Airways tickets

Before January 2020 all SA Airlink bookings were ticketed under South African Airways (SAA). However, in January 2020 this was ended by both airlines. Airlink bookings had to be booked & ticketed on their own code for travel beyond June 2020. Consequentially, SAA were not able to ticket Airlink flights for travel after June. Due to this, any bookings that were scheduled to fly in March, April and May 2020 on Airlink but ticketed through SAA are not able to be rebooked as SAA. SAA no longer have the authority to ticket Airlink flights. As a result, bookings due to travel in March, April and May 2020 cannot be used as a like for like travel credit for when the passenger rebooks.

As your March, April and May 2020 SAA tickets on Airlink cannot be used a future credit for Airlink flights, the two airlines have reached an agreement to rebook all un-flown Airlink flights ticketed through SAA as pure Airlink tickets, this will enable you to use these bookings as future credit for travel on the same flights – as originally booked, later in 2020 or 2021. This process will be carried out by Airlink’s head office, who will advise Aviate when all tickets have been transferred from SAA codeshare tickets to pure Airlink tickets. The agreement is only valid for bookings ticketed after the 6th December 2019.

Please note: Bookings ticketed before the 6th December will still be able to make full use of South African Airway’s commercial policy but will remain as an SAA ticket.

To read the full update click here

 

B. Thai Airways Enters Restructuring Programme

Thai Airways have seen the approval of their business reorganisation plan by the Government of Thailand, who have a 51% stake in the airline. The business’ restructuring programme is an effort by the airline to become more efficient, resilient, and competitive while maintaining their high standards of service.

Thai Airways have reiterated to Aviate that the carrier; “is able to operate flights and run its business as usual. THAI will not be dissolved or go into liquidation or be declared bankrupt.”

The airline are still on track to start flying internationally after June 2020 with a limited network, gradually introducing more international flights to the schedule pending government approval.

C. Norwegian Secures State Aid

Norwegian has confirmed its restructuring has been completed and that the state loan guarantee of NOK 3 billion (£246 million) has been approved.

Over the past 18 months the airline has undergone a restructuring programme, which has seen the airline concentrate on more profitable aspects of the business. The restructure and government backed loan will see Norwegian continue the transformation of the airline, enabling it to continue flying once global travel restrictions have been lifted.

For more details please see the full press release

D. LATAM Voluntarily Enters Chapter 11

LATAM have filed to reorganize the airline under Chapter 11 protection in the United States. This will allow the group to carry out a voluntary reorganization and restructuring of its debt, emerging as a more agile, resilient, and sustainable airline group when they return to the skies.  LATAM’s announcement will not impact your customers and here at Aviate we will continue to work with LATAM the same way we always have. The airline has guaranteed future bookings, current credit vouchers and refunds that are being processed with the airline.

For more information please see the full article here. LATAM have also created a dedicated microsite for key information about the reorganisation process; www.LATAMreorganization.com

We will continue to publish all relevant news articles and press releases from our airline partners as soon as we have them.

They can be found on each company’s website LimeAviateVirgin Atlantic Flightstore.

Back to all Bulletins

Last Sunday’s announcement by Boris Johnson, whilst attempting to restart the economy somewhat, was however not all together great news for us in the travel industry generally. Introducing a mandatory 14 day quarantining for the foreseeable future for UK holiday makers returning from their trips is a major negative. There is also no specific support for our industry sector, despite it being one of the worst hit and the Foreign Office continues to advise against any leisure travel. The travel business remains challenging!

As mentioned last week, I can confirm we opened offices as planned on Wednesday this week and re-opened the phone lines. The office is set up to maintain social distancing and keep everyone safe. From the calls we have received, we know this has been appreciated by many of our customers. Thank you for not flooding the phones and continuing to email or use our chat service where possible.

Like previous weeks, in the Bulletin below I have updated you on where we are with the refunds due from the airlines. The GDS refunds are working well and to plan. However as stated, with many airlines, refunds having to be made via BSPLink are delayed and out of our control. To highlight the issue, since 15 March, our team at Aviate has raised 4,929 manual Refund Applications via BSPLink to a value of £3.5 million. Of these, despite our own prompt action, to date just 231 have been authorised by the various airlines and of which most of these funds are yet to be received by us. See section 2 for further detail…

REFUNDS – FLIGHTS

Again, I am pleased to confirm the current refund cycle is on schedule and that all due refunds (as per the table below) will have been transacted by Monday (18 May).  We are still getting queries about refunds that are not yet due, as per these timelines, and therefore can I please ask these dates are circulated within your teams.

*We will need these clear funds from IATA/the airlines before processing your Refunds to you

As I have advised previously, those refunds which some airlines insist on being processed offline through IATA’s BSPLink will take significantly longer to be paid back. These airlines include: Air France-KLM, Virgin Atlantic, Etihad, Emirates, Norwegian, Lufthansa, Turkish Airlines, Oman Air, South African Airways, Sri Lankan Airlines and Vietnam Airlines.

To outline the process for any who are unaware: an application has to be raised for each PNR, and then this has to be acknowledged and authorised by the airline against the related ticket. There is subsequently a further delay of approximately 1 month whilst the funds are released into our IATA BSP cycle. Laborious we know – and whilst we protest as best we can there is little we can do to accelerate this process. We are however committed to act swiftly and re-pay these to you as soon as we are in receipt of the funds.

As mentioned in my introduction, since 15 March, Aviate have raised 4,929 Refund Applications to a value of £3.5 million via BSPLINK. Of these just 231 (4.7%) only have been authorised of which most of these funds are yet to be received by us. We are hoping, as some weeks have now passed that we are closer to the dates we will begin to receive these in volume. We are expecting some early refund claims from Emirates next week and will get these to you as soon as possible within the cycle detailed in the table.

REFUNDS – GROUPS

Please ensure the timelines we have provided for Lime and Aviate are circulated with any relevant team members along with the following supporting notes:

  • Many airlines are forcing refunds offline via BSPLink so they can authorize them individually. This will significantly slow down the refund timeline. We estimate refunds made via BSPLink will take 10 to 12 weeks to be authorised and then be paid back to us. You can see a list if airlines and their refund methods here.
  • Groups’ refund policies and processes vary from airline to airline, and airlines have changed policies as the situation has developed. Your individual group Terms will have been confirmed to you at the point of group cancellation.
  • Deposits may be held by airlines in different formats (ie EMDs) and we have to apply for these offline directly to the airline.

Some airlines are not dealing with Group refunds currently, making it impossible to estimate timelines for these at all.

  • LIME BRITISH AIRWAYS GROUPS REFUND TIMELINE

Notes: This timeline covers all stages of Group bookings – deposited, full paid and ticketed.
Refunds applicable to the relevant commercial policy/T&C’s in place at the time of cancellation for refund values.

*Dates are based on BA payment for refunds and presume monies are refunded to Lime by BA in line with this cycle

  • AVIATE AIRLINE GROUPS REFUND TIMELINE (INC VAFS)

Notes: This timeline covers all stages of Group bookings – deposited, full paid and ticketed.
Refunds which require airline authorisation (via BSPLink or other offline method) fall outside of this process.

*Dates are based on IATA payments for GDS refunds and monies are refunded to Aviate by IATA in line with this cycle. BSPLink payments will take longer.

KEY AIRLINE NEWS

  • AIRLINK AND SOUTH AFRICAN AIRWAYS REACH AGREEMENTAt the time of distribution of the previous  Bulletin 7, SA Airlink was no longer accepting passengers issued on South African Airways tickets for an SA Airlink operated flight.South African Airlink (4Z) has since reached an agreement with South African Airways (SA) on the re-accommodation of bookings ticketed on South African Airways, but travelling on Airlink flights for future travel. The agreement currently applies to bookings ticketed after 6 December 2019. For more details please read here >
  • VIRGIN ATLANTIC REMOVE INTERLINE AGREEMENT WITH KULULA (MN)With immediate effect Virgin Atlantic have withdrawn their interline agreement with Kulula (MN). Virgin Atlantic will be offering alternative flying options if you have an affected booking in the coming weeks, based on priority of departure date.
  • AVIANCA VOLUNTARILY ENTERS CHAPTER 11Avianca has voluntarily filed reorganisation proceedings under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code. The South American carrier has taken this action in order to protect the business, as they continue to navigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.A statement from Aviana clarified they will “continue to operate and continue to work with our partners and serve our customers during this process,” and, “expect to honour current contracts and continue to sell and distribute our products through all channels both direct and indirect.”.

PROTECTING TRAVEL PLANS WITH THESE AIRLINES

Whilst we are in full support of retaining each airline’s rightful bookings, and maintaining your customers’ preferred travel plans,
we recognise the uncertainty of the status of many services worldwide, and the lack of clarity about future services that this brings.

We would advise considering potential alternatives now for international and regional flights in situations such as these above, and making ‘reserve’ bookings where feasible.  Our Airline Team will continue to monitor developments closely and will offer updates in these bulletins, on our website, or by contacting you directly over individual bookings if any situation changes definitively.

Furthermore, our Customer Support team are on hand and happy to advise options for alternative flights or itineraries.
Please contact us via email where possible.

PHONE LINES AND OFFICE TEAM

In Bulletin 7 I informed you that a Customer Support team were to return to the office in order to reinstate our telephone support service, as that wasn’t attainable in a remote homeworking capacity. Thank you for keeping these lines clear of refund date queries to enable those of our partners who have urgent enquiries that are best resolved over the phone to reach us.

INDEX

1 – Intro
2 – Refunds – Flights
3 – Refunds – Groups
4 – Key airline news
– Virgin Atlantic
– South African Airways
– Air Mauritius
– Comair
5 – Telephone service
6 – System functions update

 

1. Intro

Well the news of the effects of Coronavirus keeps coming.

This week, Virgin announced the closure of their Gatwick operations with a reduction in fleet and a focus now for the future purely on Heathrow and Manchester departures. This does not mean a cessation of all their current destinations they serve from Gatwick but a shift of operations to Heathrow. We are of course all hoping our key and most popular routes will be retained. BA, Virgin and others are now planning to make considerable job cuts and, I think, we all know the travel business will not be the same for years to come. And now Comair in South Africa have announced plans for financial restructuring. We will all have to adapt.

The Travel Innovation Group and our teams are uniquely well placed to adapt, as necessary. Lime has a long-standing, strong and unique partnership with BA and its sister airlines. Aviate is the leading UK specialist, tour operator consolidator and a major leisure supplier to most of the world’s key airlines. We also have a significant technology company Calrom that develops all our technologies – which has enabled us, during this crisis introduce new user and behind-the-scenes system features to assist us and deliver services to our customers, where possible.

I am pleased to confirm that from Wednesday 13 May, we will be reopening our telephone lines for our UK customers. Thank you for your patience so far. As I have previously mentioned in these Bulletins, our telephone system does not have the functionality to operate in a homeworking environment and therefore this has precluded us from easily switching back on our phones. We have considered things carefully and in line with government guidelines, we will be reopening our offices for a select number of staff who will now operate the Customer Support phone lines, whilst their colleagues remain at home dealing with emails, etc. As this will be a select team only to enable us to manage social distancing rules etc, then please, only use the phones for critical calls. I hope this continues to show our endeavours to providing as wide a service as possible to our customers, as soon as practical, during this crisis. Full information in section 5.

2. Refunds – Flights

As you’ll know from previous Bulletins – and from receiving your refund payments by now – we have had a solid structure in place for refunding your IT, Published, Seat Only tickets where due.

Refund timeline

Exceptions: As previously highlighted, if, due to the airline’s policy, a refund must be processed via the Offline BSP facility (this method is confirmed on your refund email confirmation), we are in the hands of the airlines as to when we will receive these funds from them which will affect when we can make the payment back to you the tour operator. Unfortunately, these may take considerable time with some airlines estimating between 12 to 16 weeks.

*We will need these clear funds from IATA/the airlines before processing your Refunds to you.

 

 

3. Refunds – Groups

We understand that getting back funds paid for Group flights that subsequently don’t operate is key for your business. Due to their more complicated process, refunds for group bookings have been harder to place into a structured cycle, however I can now confirm the timelines for both Lime and Aviate (inc Virgin Atlantic Flightstore). Our Groups and Finance teams are endeavouring to work to these schedules to get monies back to you, but there are many complications that will affect individual bookings:

  • Many airlines are forcing refunds offline via BSPLink so they can authorize them individually. This will significantly slow down the refund timeline. We estimate refunds made via BSPLink will take 10 to 12 weeks to be authorized and then be paid back to us. You can see a list if airlines and their refund methods in our summary reference guide here
    • Groups’ refund policies and processes vary from airline to airline, and airlines have changed policies as the situation has developed. Your individual group Terms will have been confirmed to you at the point of group cancellation.
  • Deposits may be held by airlines in different formats (ie EMDs) and we have to apply for these offline directly to the airline.
  • Some airlines are not dealing with Group refunds currently, making it impossible to estimate timelines for these at all.

 

Lime British Airways Groups refund timeline

Notes: This timeline covers all stages of Group bookings – deposited, full paid and ticketed.
Refunds applicable to the relevant commercial policy/T&C’s in place at the time of cancellation for refund values.

*Dates are based on BA payment for refunds and presume monies are refunded to Lime by BA in line with this cycle


British Airways Group policy extension

British Airways have updated the travel dates that unticketed Groups refunds are permitted on, to include
bookings travelling between 01 July and 31 August 2020. Cancellation requests must be made by the airline’s
deadline of 22 May, and in order to achieve this we ask that you raise the cancellation request with us 48 hours
prior to this date to allow time for our team to action it within the deadline. Unticketed Groups bookings not
cancelled by this deadline will be as per Standard Terms & Conditions. Further details on BA policy can be found
on Lime’s Coronavirus Support webpage >


Aviate airline Groups refund timeline (inc VAFS)

Notes: This timeline covers all stages of Group bookings – deposited, full paid and ticketed.
Refunds which require airline authorisation (via BSPLink or other offline method) fall outside of this process.

*Dates are based on IATA payments for GDS refunds and monies are refunded to Aviate by IATA in line with this cycle. BSPLink payments will take longer.

4. Key airline news

  • Virgin Atlantic
    Virgin Atlantic has announced plans to reshape and resize its business to ensure that is it fit for the future. In a communication from Lee Haslett, VP UK & European Sales, he explained that these include moving its flying programme from London Gatwick to London Heathrow, with the intention of retaining its slot portfolio at London Gatwick, so it can return in line with customer demand. It will continue to operate services from its northern base in Manchester. The expectation is that Virgin Atlantic will operate 60% of its pre-Covid flying by the end of 2020.The airline is setting to establish itself as a sustainability leader by flying only wide-body, twin engine aircraft, and retiring its fleet of 747s. By 2022 the simplified, greener fleet will comprise of 36 twin engine aircraft reducing CO2/RTK emissions by an estimated further 10%, building on the 18% efficiency already achieved between 2007-2019.As soon as we are able to, we will update further on the impacts to schedules through the remainder of 2020, and on our popular Out of Date Range programme for 2021.

 

  • South African Airways
    Aviate are expecting to hear significant developments in the next few days on the future of South African Airways (SAA). In response to what SAA might look like in the future, the Ministry of Public Enterprises have said:“It will not be the old SAA. Rather it will be the beginning of a new journey to a new restructured airline, which will be a proud flagship for South Africa.”It has also been confirmed that SA Airlink (4Z), have ended their interline agreement with South African Airways (SA) as of 6 May. SA Airlink will no longer accept passengers issued on South African Airways tickets for an SA Airlink operated flight. All tickets issued directly on SA Airlink tickets are unaffected. We will be in contact with you directly about all affected bookings.

 

  • Air Mauritius
    As of 22 April 2020, Air Mauritius entered Voluntary Administration with the objective being to safeguard the interests of the company and continue flying once the Covid-19 crisis is over. The administrators have 77 days to submit a plan for the future of Air Mauritius however the airline believes this will have been formulated and submitted before the 8 July 2020 deadline. This plan will also have the backing of the Mauritian government.Air Mauritius have confirmed that bookings, tickets and EMD’s will be valid when flights resume. Their Covid-19 policy remains in place and gives passengers the flexibility to rebook their travel on Air Mauritius in the future.

 

  • Comair
    Comair is under business rescue in South Africa as of 05 May. The business rescue process is reported to build on the turnaround plan that Comair management was already implementing, aiming to preserve cash, cuts costs, dispose of non-performing assets and strengthen the balance sheet. In a statement, available on their website, the airline is reported to be confident that they will be better positioned to serve the flying public as the business rescue plan develops.Again, we will keep you updated as matters transpire.


Whilst we wait for future news on airlines and whilst we wish to maintain support for all airlines as they work through the challenges of this crisis, it may be prudent to protect your customers on our other airlines to maintain your options.

 


5. Telephone service

We are now in a position to enable some of our operations team to work from our office from Wednesday 13 May and will now operate the Customer Support phone lines to handle critical calls whilst the majority of our operations continue remotely. I’m confident that we can do this safely, with complete adherence to the government’s guidelines on distancing and other precautions.

Whilst I hope that this will be a welcome extension of our current communication lines, please consider our primary contact channel remains email, as it represents the most efficient way of managing the enquiries, we are currently handling. The support in doing so is enabling us to typically resolve email general enquiries within 1-2 hours, and refund processing confirmations within 24 hours. Therefore, from next Wednesday please only call our operation teams for matters of a critical nature that can’t be handled by email or online chat. Also refrain from using this channel for updates on refund statuses which I’m satisfied are being issued within the timeline and process that I have laid out in section 2 of this bulletin, and (for non-groups flights) in previous issues.

The phonelines for urgent enquiries to Flights and Groups Customer Service teams across Lime, Aviate and Virgin Atlantic Flightstore will be open Monday-Friday 09:00-17:30 via their usual phone numbers. Our Saturday service will remain email only.

6. System functions update

Following our system development in March and April to enable you greater self-management of Exchange Travel Credits (ETC), we have introduced a further feature to streamline this process.

Now instead of having to email us to ticket your disruption bookings, you can request ticketing within your account from the booking display page using the new ‘Price & Ticket’ button.

Full guidelines on using ETCs, including this new feature can be found here >

I do hope you found Bulletin 7 of benefit. Please note, future editions will be published regularly as required rather than on a set day of the week, so that we can communicate key news quicker as it becomes available.

INDEX

1 – Introduction
2 – Refunds status update
3 – Airline policy enhancements
– Emirates
– British Airways
4 – Air Mauritius voluntary administration update
5 – System functions update
6 – Key topics for bulletin 7

 

INTRODUCTION

I am pleased to confirm, we will have achieved our target and initiated all refunds due to our customers by this Friday, 1 May. There have been hiccups along the way, but the team have worked tirelessly. We all know how important it is to repay the refunds received from the airlines as swiftly as possible and give you our tour operator customers, the assurance that we are doing what we can to support you and the wider industry. In case of any bank delays please check the receipt of funds in your bank account on Monday (credit card repayments will appear later). More details follow under section 2.

From Monday 4 May, we are preparing for the next (fourth) cycle of payments. Once completed, this will mean all refund requests received from you by 15 April, for all departure dates – and if received from the airlines to us – will be repaid by 18 May latest. Whilst we hope our Bulletins have been relevant and kept you in the loop on the refund status, we have nonetheless appreciated your patience. We are also aware many other consolidators are lagging somewhat with their refund schedule and indeed some are even prioritising the refunding of their own in-house package holidays ahead of providing refunds for flight bookings to tour operators and travel agents.

We also recognise other matters are frustrating, including the lengthy time for BSP link refunds to be actioned by many of the airlines, inflexible airline policies (though I have updates in section 3 on policy enhancements from our major partners), and our telephone system not being up and running. We are working hard to try and remedy situations generally and where necessary, to support you on an case-by-case basis. On the matter of our telephones, we hope to be back on the phones soon as we believe we will be able to do so. A definite date will be confirmed in our next Bulletin, but in the meantime we are available via online chat and email, and happy to arrange call-backs where you would prefer to speak with a member of our team.

 

REFUNDS STATUS UPDATE

We are pleased to see that our proactive stance in refunding money to a defined schedule has now been adopted by other consolidators. Further to my update on our own progress in the introduction, I thought it worthwhile to drop in our refund timeline once again by way of reminder:

Refund Timeline Table

Exceptions

As previously highlighted, if, due to the airline’s policy, a refund must be processed via the Offline BSP facility (this method is confirmed on your refund email confirmation), we are in the hands of the airlines as to when we will receive these funds from them which will affect when we can make the payment back to you the tour operator. Unfortunately, these may take considerable time with some airlines estimating between 12 to 16 weeks.

Our Aviate Commercial team are however doing what they can and pressing these airlines to enact our refunds as a matter of priority. In truth, we are not sure how successful our protests will be but rest assured we are trying all avenues to achieve quicker refunds. For example, whilst Emirates latterly have introduced one of the more flexible Covid 19 policies, we have noted in the trade press, they are estimating their refunds may take until August to process. As a business we are acting swiftly to process all refund requests via the BSP link function so there is no undue extra delay from ourselves.

*We will need these clear funds from IATA/the airlines before processing your Refunds to you.

 

AIRLINE POLICY ENHANCEMENTS

Following lobbying and supplying live examples of the impact of restrictive policies, two of our major airlines have released enhancements to their policies:

EK refunds for cancelled inbound flight sectors
Emirates, in policy version 8, are now permitting fuller refunds of unused inbound flights where services have been cancelled when customers were still in resort. Refund calculations can now follow these guidelines:

1 – Unused airport tax

2 – Unused YQ even for non-refundable tickets

3 – Residual base fare value after deduction of the applicable base OW fare for the journey travelled. If such applicable base OW fare is higher than RT base fare of the ticket then process 25% of the ticketed RT base fare.

British Airways extend Exchange Travel Credit criteria
British Airways announced they have extended their Book with Confidence policy that relates to bookings made on or before 13 March 2020. In summary, Exchange Travel Credits which can now be used for bookings originally due to travel up to 31 July, and can be redeemed for travel periods up to 30 April 2022. Please see the policy overview on Lime’s Coronavirus Support page and find links to British Airways full version.

 

AIR MAURITIUS VOLUNTARY ADMINISTRATION UPDATE

Air Mauritius is currently under voluntary administration. Amidst the Covid-19 crisis, the Mauritian national carrier wishes to give itself the necessary breathing space and set the conducive conditions for restructuring opportunities in order to stay afloat.

“At the outset, it is important to highlight that Air Mauritius has not filed for bankruptcy. Our objectives as Administrators are to safeguard the interests of the company and more importantly, reengineer its activities so that it can take off again once this crisis is over”, says Sattar Hajee Abdoula of the Administrators.

The administrators are currently working with the Management to ensure that Air Mauritius continues to operate and plan the phased resumption of operations.

We are currently clarifying ongoing policies and the effect on existing Air Mauritius bookings.

 

ENHANCED FLIGHTS SYSTEM FUNCTIONALITY

We’ve spent some time developing our Flights booking systems across the group, and recently released functionality which allows you to redeem your Exchange Travel Credits more efficiently online. Please allow me to reiterate the importance of reviewing the relevant airlines’ Covid 19 policy before you take any action to ensure you are managing each booking correctly.

This new function was explained to system users via Lime, Aviate and Virgin Atlantic Flightstore email distribution last week, however you can view a simple ‘How to’ guide explaining how to use the new function here.

 

KEY TOPICS FOR BULLETIN 7

– An update on our telephone reconnection plan

 

I HOPE YOU FIND THESE BULLETINS USEFUL

Mike.

INDEX

1 – Introduction
2 – Bookings with a departure date up to 17 May
– Will my customer’s flight be operating?
– For bookings made via aviateworld.com and via Amadeus
– For bookings made via Galileo, Worldspan or Sabre
3 – Aviate airline policies
4 – Air Mauritius goes into voluntary administration
5 – System Enhancement – disrupted bookings
6 – Key topics for Bulletin 6

 

INTRODUCTION

A slightly delayed bulletin this week I’m afraid, please accept my apologies. We have been working to find the best solution for your bookings due to depart in May and I wanted to be able to give you a full update before communicating. Full information in section 2 of this bulletin.

I am delighted to have had the chance to speak to so many of our operators over the last few days, so thank you to those who have spent time talking with me.  If you would like to have a call with me to discuss feedback on bulletin content, what you would like me to cover in future bulletins or your experiences during this current situation you can request one here. Unfortunately, I can’t discuss individual queries, these should be pursued via the usual channels.

New issues are more intermittent lately. Therefore, I have decided to publish these Bulletins once a week each Wednesday until the situation stabilises. If something significant occurs in the meantime, we will communicate with additional bulletins when required.

 

MANAGING BOOKINGS ORIGINALLY SCHEDULED TO DEPART UP TO 17 MAY

As the Coronavirus lockdown is further extended, airlines are now starting to cancel their services for May, however the situation for the whole month is unclear.

Should you already know that your customer’s flight will not be operating, or that they will not be travelling, you can start the reissue/refund process by using the Disruption Cancel function as detailed below.

Please ensure you review the relevant airline policy before you take any action to ensure you are acting within it.

For British Airways bookings, if the flight is not yet cancelled, then should your clients request a Refund, we recommend you wait and monitor the situation in case the flight subsequently does get cancelled. If your clients would like to rebook and use a BA Exchange Travel Credit then you can process these when you wish (please note once an Exchange Travel Credit on BA is processed it is not then possible to revert to a refund at a later time).

Please note, at 48 hours prior to departure, on all airlines we will check each booking due to travel up to and including Sunday 17 May. If you have not already performed an action on the booking (reissue, refund, Exchange Travel Credit) then we will place the e-ticket in an Open status and keep the pnr/booking Live. This will allow you to subsequently update the booking (reissue, refund, Exchange Travel Credit) in line with your customer’s instruction and airline policy.

We will advise on bookings post 17 May in a subsequent bulletin.

WILL MY CUSTOMER’S FLIGHT BE OPERATING?

Some airlines have announced their schedules for May. Where Aviate are advised in writing by the airline, these will be posted on Aviate’s Tour Operator Help & Advice Portal. British Airways flight schedules can be accessed via a link provided on Lime’s Coronavirus Information page For forthcoming flights with Virgin Atlantic you can check here.

Not all flight cancellations are being updated into pnr/bookings in good time. Where they do, we are endeavouring to update you with this information. Galileo, Worldspan & Sabre bookers should monitor their Schedule Change Qs.

The Flight Status section of airlines’ own websites are often the most up to date if in any doubt.

FOR BOOKINGS MADE VIA OUR FLIGHTS SYSTEMS AND VIA AMADEUS

You can manage your booking by using the Disruption Cancel option within each booking. This option will remove flight sectors but keep the booking live to convert to an Exchange Travel Credit, or allow a Refund in line with airline policy.

Advice on how to use your Exchange Travel Credit, or apply for a Refund was detailed in Bulletin 4 of 17 April you can read in full here.

FOR BOOKINGS MADE VIA GALILEO, WORLDSPAN OR SABRE

You must manage the booking through your own GDS. Full instructions can be found here.

 

Aviate Airline Policies

As you are probably aware, airlines are publishing two types of policy ‘Covid-19’ policies and ‘Book with Confidence’ policies. We are aware that so many policies can be quite confusing, so I wanted to take some time to clarify.

‘Covid-19’ policies are there to cover your existing affected bookings that were created and ticketed before the outbreak to travel during the disruption period.

‘Book with Confidence’ policies are published by airlines to help encourage passengers to book during this challenging period to travel later in the year (or next year) giving the flexibility to change dates without a charge.

What we are finding is that airlines are now combining the two types of policy, therefore we are now only publishing ‘Covid-19’ policies for Aviate airlines and they can be found here.

 

Air Mauritius goes into voluntary administration

The Board of Air Mauritius took the decision to place the airline into voluntary administration on today (22 April) ‘in order to safeguard the interests of the company’.
We are working with Air Mauritius in the UK to understand the impact on existing bookings with the airline, and will update further in due course. At this time, we recommend you look to protect future Air Mauritius bookings on alternative airlines so that your future departures are protected to Mauritius.

 

System Enhancement – disrupted bookings

Within the next week we are due to enhance functionality across our Flights systems to enable you more control over redeeming Exchange Travel Credits (ETC). This follows our previous system enhancement on 24 March which enabled you control over creating/accepting an Exchange Travel Credit.

We will post a notification to the Lime, Aviate and Virgin Atlantic Flightstore websites once this functionality is live and provide an updated guide on how to redeem ETCs.

 

Key Topics for Bulletin 6

– Refund progress
– Air Mauritius further update

 

I hope you find these bulletins useful.

Mike.

INDEX:

1 – Introduction
2 – Refunds (IT, Seat Only, Cruise and Published fares) – current status
3 – Using Exchange Travel Credits (airline vouchers)
– Accepting an Exchange Travel Credit
– Redeeming an Exchange Travel Credit
4 – EMDs Explained
5 – Key Topics for Bulletin Number 5

 

INTRODUCTION

Not a great deal has changed over the days since my last bulletin take that as good or bad! I have in that time however enjoyed speaking to those of our trade partners who’ve requested a telephone meeting with me via the online request portal I’ve learnt plenty and hopefully been able to impart some useful information too For those still wishing to speak with me or the most relevant member of my management team be it feedback on bulletin content, what you’d like to see in future issues/publications, your experiences during this current madness, etc the portal remains accessible to submit a meeting request.

As confirmed in the last Bulletin, we successfully completed our Refund cycle due by this Thursday 16 April (as you’ll see in section 2 overleaf) Our team are now handling the next cycle of re payments to you, for which we have received BSP repayments on behalf of Aviate refunds as scheduled from IATA At time of publishing, we are awaiting to receive Lime’s from British Airways, which is due today. Re-payments of Refunds, where due, remains our top focus.

Unfortunately, we have not yet been able to finalise our plans to re establish our telephone lines for working from home. As soon as we have a plan we will share.

 

REFUNDS-INCLUSIVE TOUR, SEAT ONLY, CRUISE AND PUBLISHED FARES-CURRENT STATUS

By close of business on 16 April, all eligible refund requests processed up to 15 March were paid to 217 of our tour operator customers.

Due to legal restrictions, for those bookings paid originally on a Credit or Debit Card, then we have refunded these back to the original form of payment (valid for any such repayments made to you from 15 April) Apologies that we had not highlighted this refunding method earlier, however this necessity was only highlighted to us by our credit card merchant provider on Wednesday Please watch your card statement for the refund to appear.

Please note, where a credit or debit card was used for the original payment of your booking then future refund payments will be made back to this original form of payment.

Refund Timeline Table

Exceptions

As previously highlighted, if, due to the airline’s policy, a refund must be processed via the Offline BSP facility (this method will be confirmed on your refund email confirmation), we are in the hands of the airlines as to when we will receive these funds from them which will affect when we can make the payment back to you the tour operator. Unfortunately, these may take considerable time with some airlines estimating between 12 to 16 weeks.

*We will need these clear funds from IATA the airlines before processing your Refunds to you

 USING EXCHANGE TRAVEL CREDITS (AIRLINE VOUCHERS)

We all want to persuade our clients to re book and keep their original flight bookings live where possible. As you know many airlines have put policies in place to allow this by turning the original ticket into an Exchange Travel Credit/EMD. Of course we recognise in many cases the clients would prefer a Refund of their holiday including their flight element. Unfortunately, as you are aware, not all airlines are allowing this.

Airline policies and processes vary; we have summarised the policies of some of our key airlines in a table below though more comprehensive details are available for Lime/British Airways here / Aviate airlines here and Virgin Atlantic Flightstore here.

Accepting/Redeeming Exchange Travel Credit via our systems:

To accept the Exchange Travel Credit under each airline’s policy;

– Login into your original booking online via your Lime, Aviate or Virgin Atlantic Flightstore account
– Make note of the original PNR and e ticket numbers for future reference when you come to rebook
– Use the ‘Disruption Cancellation’ button in the ‘Display Booking’ screen within the booking.
(This function will remove the original sectors in the booking but keep open the e ticket).

To redeem your Exchange Travel Credit:

– Login to the system in which you booked your original tickets, via Lime, Aviate or Virgin Atlantic Flightstore websites.

– Create a new booking in the normal way (as per and within restrictions on each airline’s policy), and enter in the reference field (found on the ‘Passenger Details’ page), the original PNR reference and ‘C19’ to identify it as a COVID rebooking.

– As airline policies can change at any given time, we strongly recommend that you request ticket issue on your new booking as soon as created , but, of course in any case, prior to the new bookings’ Ticketing Time Limit.

– Ticketing must be requested directly with our Customer Support team:
Lime: baflights@lime management.com
Aviate: info@aviateworld.com
Virgin Atlantic Flightstore: info@vaflightstore.com

– We will then organise ticketing of the new booking and if required collect any additional fare/tax
requiring to be paid at the time.

Accepting and redeeming your Exchange Travel Credit via your GDS

To our customers who use Sabre, Galileo or Worldspan to make their bookings we recommend the following actions to secure Exchange Travel Credit. For  Amadeus customers, the above process via our systems should be used.

– Cancel the flight itinerary

– Add in a Retention line (see guide overleaf)

– End transaction this will ensure the value held in your e tickets is not lost should flights go into ‘No Show’ state.

– Rebook new dates in same PNR when your customer is ready. Again as airline policies can change at any given time, we strongly recommend that you request ticket issue on your new booking as soon as created, but, of course in any case, prior to the new bookings’ Ticketing Time Limit

– Request ticketing directly with our Customer Support team as per above contact details

Retention line entries:

Worldspan : TNZZMK1MIS20DEC/AN RETENTION SEGMENT (1 means number of passengers, 20Dec is the live until date)
Sabre: 0OTHAAGK1MIA20DEC RETENTION LINE
Galileo: RT.T /DATE*KEEP BOOKING LIVE

Note: The above processes should be used in conjunction with the airline’s relevant policy. Please be aware that if you
request issuance of tickets without explicit reference to it being an Exchange Travel Credit, or issue via the online systems ,
then that credit will not be applied and may be forfeited for that booking.

 

EMDs Explained

In addition to airline keeping tickets open some airlines available via Aviate are now offering the option of an EMD as a travel voucher. Some of those airlines include Air France/KLM, Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways, Iberia, Kenya Airways, South African Airways and Thai.

What is an EMD and how will it benefit you and your customers?

– EMD works like an e ticket, with an electronic document issued for the value of the passenger’s tickets; this value is stored by Aviate.
– An EMD can give an extended period of rebooking, normally one year from the date of the EMD creation,but varies by airline policy.
– Some airlines offer additional benefits with EMDs, such as additional % value* on the credit, or enabling any passenger to travel using the value of the EMD.
– Our systems are being amended to reflect bookings which hold an EMD credit

*of applicable fare and YQ/YR.

 

KEY TOPICS FOR BULLETIN 5

News on May’s flight disruptions and subsequent processes

 

I hope you find these bulletins useful.

Mike.

INDEX:

1 – Introduction
2 – Refunds (IT, Seat Only, Cruise and Published fares) – further information
3 – Key airline news
– British Airways – new fares
– Air Canada update
– Virgin Atlantic – extension for use of Exchange Travel Credits (vouchers)
– Emirates refunds
4 – New Aviate Covid-19 Help and Advice for Tour Operators’ portal
5 – Key Topics for Bulletin Number 4
– Exchange Travel Credits (airline vouchers) – rebooking.
We will include a detailed section on these to assist with your rebookings
– Re-introducing our telephone service

 

INTRODUCTION

I am pleased to confirm that we are on track to achieve our refund target and payments due to you for all refund requests processed up to 15 March should be with you by close of business on 16 April.

This week our BSP payment (an actual credit from the airlines) is due for the period of processing 16 to 31 March. We hope to receive it promptly. (but have heard from industry contacts that the bank transfer from IATA BSP is taking up to a week longer to reach our account). We are set and ready to make the refunds due back to you as soon as the money is cleared in our account. We will move as swiftly as we can to action these for you.

We are also noting more airlines relaxing their policies following feedback and pressure from us and the trade generally. In particular, Virgin Atlantic have recently announced their Exchange Travel Credits are now available for travel until May 2022 and Emirates have relaxed their refund policy. For full details watch out for our updates.

Like other travel businesses, airlines have also furloughed significant proportions of staff. Some of our airline account managers have either been furloughed or made redundant. Whilst the airlines are restructuring their teams and reassigning others to look after us, this is inevitably having an impact on communications and response times. We are now meeting all our SLA internal targets and therefore please be patient should a matter requiring airline assistance/escalation be taking longer than normally expected. Our team will keep you up to date on such individual matters.

 

REFUNDS – IT, Seat Only, Cruise and Published fares (further information)

By close of business on 16 April, all refund requests processed up to 15 March will have been paid to our customers.  In this cycle, Lime has repaid refunds to 112 tour operators and Aviate 129. Some with multiple refunds.

For the refunds processed 16 to 31 March, please see my remarks in the introduction above. As soon as the funds are received from the airlines we will, as swiftly as possible, send Bank Transfer refunds where due. Unfortunately, any refunds claimed via the Offline BSP link will not be included.

We can also confirm, where refunds are allowable, ALL refund request received by Monday 13 April have been processed by us and will there be included in the 04 May payment cycle (apart from those claimed via the Offline BSP facility).

Refund Timeline Table

(also see note below Offline BSP Refunds – updated as we are ahead of our expected timelines)

As this is so important and as a reminder

On the day we have processed your Refund requests, you will receive a confirmation email from us.  For Aviate, this will also confirm which method the airline allows us to make the refund claim.

– Aviate GDS claim. If the Refund has been processed with the airlines via the ‘GDS’ it will be paid to you as per the timelines in the table.

– Aviate Offline BSP claim. If, due to the airlines policy, it must be processed via the Offline BSP facility, we are more in the hands of the airlines as to when we will receive these funds from them. Unfortunately, these may take some considerable time with some airlines estimating between 12 to 16 weeks.

– Virgin Atlantic Flightstore/Virgin Atlantic Offline BSP Refunds Process. Please note as from 01 April, Virgin Atlantic have amended their Refund process and all Refunds now have to be processed via the Offline BSP facility. As stated above, this means we cannot confirm when our refund claims will be view and authorised by Virgin – and when you will receive the Refund. We are in constant liaison with Virgin Atlantic and, if and when we get a better understanding of timelines, we will update you.

– Lime/BA claim. All British Airways Refunds will be paid as per the timelines, in the table.

We hope that, with this information including what we will detail on the individual confirmation emails, you will be better able to plan and manage your customer expectations on when their Refund may be received.
*We will need these clear funds from IATA/the airlines before processing your Refunds to you.

 

KEY AIRLINE NEWS

British Airways Additional Price Points (APP). British Airways have announced the launch of more Additional Price Point fares on their long-haul Atlantic Joint Business routes to the United States and Canada. These will be introduced in the World Traveller cabin and will now create 30 fare levels in economy. These new fares are available via Lime as we are an NDC leisure partner of British Airways. These fares will be available from Q class right up to B class. The fares will be released from this week covering Heathrow and Gatwick departures, with an initial 19 gateway destinations included.  All routes will be launched by 01 May 2020. Full details of the fares can be found here.

Air Canada policy clarification. Any bookings schedule changed by AC up to 19 March are entitled to a full refund. Any schedule changes made by AC after this date can opt for an Exchange Travel Credit, or a refund under the original fare conditions.

Virgin Atlantic. As mentioned in the introduction and following representations from us, Virgin Atlantic have recently announced their Exchange Travel Credits are now available for travel all the way through until May 2022.

Emirates refunds
Emirates have just an announced a new and updated policy – which has been highlighted in the media. From Emirates – Full Refunds are now available “for flight cancellations, travel bans and lockdowns preventing travel, unused portion of the ticket is eligible for refund without penalty. Processing delays may apply due to current backlog”.Should you require a Refund rather than rebooking on a future Emirates’ flight, we will process these as soon possible however they will be enacted via BSP link (and thus causing a delay for re-payment by the airline, as stated).

 

NEW – Aviate Covid-19 ‘Help and Advice for Tour Operators’ portal

Aviate has created a new portal on its website. A one stop Aviate shop for all matters Covid-19. A location for all Bulletins plus a section where you can request a meeting call with me. If I can provide clarifications, what the Travel Innovation Group is undertaking, industry insights, views on the future or just a general chat then I am going to try and speak to as many of you as possible. Take a look at the portal here.

 

KEY TOPICS FOR BULLETIN 4 (17 April)

– Exchange Travel Credits (airline vouchers) – rebooking.
– Telephones – getting our system up and running for under homeworking circumstances.

 

I HOPE YOU FIND THESE BULLETINS USEFUL

Mike.

INDEX:

1 – Introduction
2 – Refunds (IT, Seat Only, Cruise and Published fares) – further information
3 – IATA news
4 – Key airline news
– BA Group policies and refunds
– Aviate Groups
– Emirates – unused inbound tickets
– XF Taxes
5 – Furloughed staff – who to contact
6 – Key topics for Bulletin Number 3

 

Introduction

Our first bulletin was well received – in particular the information and timelines surrounding how we plan to deliver Refunds to you. This week we will start sending the Bank Transfers for those Refunds processed up until 15 March.

The trade is rightly not happy that the FCO have recently issued an ‘indefinite’ advisory not to travel for ‘non-essential travel’.  This is causing considerable confusion and does not support the industry. As with many of you we have spoken to, we hope this matter is corrected soonest. We are also protesting – on our and your behalf – to many of the airlines and IATA (see point 3 below) where their policies are not aligned with standard practice. We are having occasional wins where individual airlines have amended their policy such as Qatar Airways, Qantas, Air Canada, Turkish Airlines and Malaysia Airlines plus we have some airlines agreeing extensions to their original Exchange Travel Credit’s limits. British Airways agreed to extend timescales for reissues to take place (72 hours from 24 hours). We will continue to update you on what changes.

We are also still working on a new telephone solution to enable us to return to full telephone service even as we are now all homeworking.

As it is Easter this weekend, the next Bulletin update will be on Tuesday 14 April (unless there is an important update that requires sharing, in the meantime).

I hope you find Bulletin 2 useful.

 

Refunds (IT, Seat Only, Cruise and Published fares) – further information

Some positive news. We are getting ahead in processing the Refund requests as we know how important getting these Refunds back to you is. This means, by 15 April, we will have processed all Refund requests received by now for travel to end of April. We have therefore updated the table below.

Refund Timeline Table

(also see note below regarding Offline BSP Refunds) Amendments from Bulletin 1 in red

On the day we have processed your Refund requests, you will receive a confirmation email from us. For Aviate, this will also confirm which method the airline allows us to make the refund claim. For Lime/BA, all refunds for British Airways, which will be considered in these table timeframes in all cases.

GDS claim.
If the Refund has been processed with the airlines via the ‘GDS’ it will be paid to you as per the timelines in the table.

Offline BSP claim.
If, due to the airlines policy, it must be processed via the offline BSP facility, we are more in the hands of the airlines as to when we will receive these funds from them. Unfortunately, these may take some considerable time with some airlines estimating between 12 to 16 weeks.

Virgin Atlantic Flightstore/Virgin Atlantic Offline BSP Refunds Process.
Please note as from 01 April, Virgin Atlantic have amended their Refund process and all Refunds now have to be processed via the Offline BSP facility. As stated above, this means we cannot confirm when our refund claims will be view and authorized by Virgin – and when you will receive the Refund. We are in constant liaison with Virgin Atlantic and, if and when we get a better understanding of timelines, we will update you.

Lime / BA claim.
All British airways Refunds will be paid as per the timelines, in the table.

We hope that, with this information including what we will detail on the individual confirmation emails, you will be better able to plan and manage your customer expectations on when their Refund may be received.
*We will need these clear funds from IATA/the airlines before processing your Refunds to you.

 

IATA news

Please note this extract from ‘An Open Letter to the Travel Agent Community’ statement by Alexandre de Juniac, Director General and CEO International Air Transport Association (IATA).

…“However, on the issue of airlines withholding ticket refunds in the BSP, or issuing vouchers in lieu of refunds, I’m afraid that the message I have to deliver is not one that will provide comfort. Our industry is experiencing a critical liquidity crisis. Most airlines are spending more cash in reimbursing their passengers than they receive in new booking revenues. We recently estimated the industry’s liability in this area at $35 billion. In this context, airlines’ most urgent need is to keep their remaining liquidity to pay salaries and face their fixed costs. It is practically impossible for industry players to find sufficient financial means to keep the air travel value chain operating in the short time that airlines have before facing bankruptcy. 2 April 2020.

In this context, we believe the best answer for both airlines and travel agents is for regulators to ease requirements for cash refunds and allow airlines to issue vouchers instead. These vouchers can be managed through the IATA Billing and Settlement Plan (BSP) using processes and procedures that already exist today. This would remove the pressure that is currently on agents to issue cash refunds at a time when airlines are making decisions based on their own need to preserve cash. IATA is willing to engage in open and collaborative discussions with the travel agency community represented in the Passenger Agency Programme Global Joint Council to formulate a structure for these vouchers that will bring value for airlines, travel agents and consumers. We are grateful that regulators in Canada, Colombia and the Netherlands have recognized the necessity of this approach and we hope others will do the same. While I know that this is not the answer that you want to hear, it’s important that you understand that IATA is working hard to find a solution to this problem that will enable us to endure and move forward. People want to travel, for the horizons it broadens and the connections it enables and maintains. These are dark days for our industry, but we are resilient, and we will get through them, together.”

Alexandre de Juniac
Director General and CEO
International Air Transport Association
Alexandre’s full statement can be read here

We believe this extract relates to and ‘defends’ IATA airlines’ position of issuing the vouchers (Exchange Travel Credits) rather than Refunds as normally appropriate. Any previously and currently allowable Refunds are being processed by us and we expect to receive these re-payments as per the details in point 2.

 

Key airline news

British Airways Groups policies and refunds
BA have recently extended their policy which now includes bookings that are travelling up to and including the 30 June. The team are busy working on these matters.

Aviate Groups
The Aviate Groups team have been working hard and have now contacted all agents who have a group booking with us travelling up to and including 31 May. As groups work differently to your individual fares, many of the airlines have released separate Group policies, unfortunately some have not, so we are having to work on a booking by booking basis for these. We are also finding these are constantly changing so the information you receive from us can change.

We understand that many of you have queries on bookings that are not yet covered by airline policies. For example, deposit and balance extensions, although the Groups team are doing their upmost to obtain these extensions from our airline partners – these bookings are bound by the normal terms and conditions, meaning that sometimes an extension cannot be granted. Should you wish to discuss your booking with a member of the groups team, please do email through your booking reference and your contact number and a member of the team will call you back.

Emirates – unused inbound tickets
We have lobbied Emirates specifically for a change to their policy for unused Inbound tickets. This is in light of some of your customers having to purchase return journeys on other airlines when Emirates cancelled their booked flights. More information to follow if matters change.

 XF taxes
Offline BSP Refunds to US destinations had disallowed the refund of XF taxes. After consultation with IATA, this has now been resolved and bookings will be requested for refund in full.

 

Furloughed staff – who to contact

As of 01 April we furloughed 30% of our staff across Lime, Aviate and Calrom (our technology company) into our Furlough Team. Whilst they are unable to work, we are staying in regular contact with them as they are important members of the team. For those of us who remain in our roles, during this crisis, our focus remains on our customers generally providing points of contact and delivering our services as usual. Our Operations and Reservations departments are well staffed and working round the clock to provide service to our tour operators. We will soon be fully caught up with the current workload.

Naomi Moizer continues to lead our Sales and Partnerships Team, supported by Mariela, Stacey and Chloe. The team is in touch with many of you – often in virtual meetings – and are there to help also. They can be reached on sales@traveiInnovationgroup.com.

Rachel Greenough is also available for all matters Virgin Atlantic Flightstore and Virgin Voyages. Rachel can be contacted via sales@vaflightstore.com

Basically, we are not going to let this virus stop us delivering our service to you.  

 

Key Topics for Bulletin 3 (14 April)

Exchange Travel Credits – More on how best to use these.
Telephones – Update on new system to enable our phone system to operate on a homeworking basis.

 

I HOPE YOU FIND THESE BULLETINS USEFUL

Mike.

INDEX

1 – Introduction
2 – Overview of action we have undertaken.
3 – Refunds from airlines for IT, Seat Only and Published fares including Refund Timeline Tables
4 – Communications from and with us.
5 – Service Level Updates.
6 – Topics for Bulletin No 2.

 

INTRODUCTION

It’s been a rough few weeks for us all.

At Lime and Aviate we have tried to keep everyone up to date with our situation, airline policies and industry news. As we are now ‘more settled’ we have started to move our attention and priorities to other matters.

To assist with our communications, I will now produce a twice weekly Bulletin (Tuesdays and Fridays – with the exception of Good Friday). This Bulletin will focus on key matters incorporating both Lime and Aviate news and updates as well as dealing with issues as matters unfold during this crisis. Please share these with your relevant colleagues so that everyone is kept up to date.

The Bulletin will also include our Service Level updates that Jayne Bond has been sharing so far.

 

OVERVIEW OF ACTION WE HAVE UNDERTAKEN

Lime and Aviate sit in unique positions in working so closely with many Tour Operators. The work we are undertaking is focussed on supporting our customers as best we can. Our staff have been working every day since this crisis began to try and mitigate the impact of FCO travel advice, schedule changes and flight cancellations as region-by-region worldwide flying ceased. We understand that as the ATOL principal this affects your business more than other sectors.

Our Operations staff have worked around the clock to prioritize the repatriation of your customers and to deal with those whose immediate travel plans have been disrupted.

With so many customers due to travel over Easter, booking volumes are considerable. Amongst other issues, we have triaged and actioned over 20,000 disruption related emails since 15 March. We have also received, actioned and posted online 348 airline policy updates from our 60 airline partners.

We are however, beginning to get ahead of the wave and intend to be in the best position to help you going forward.

 

REFUNDS AND EXCHANGE TRAVEL CREDITS – INCLUSIVE TOUR, SEAT ONLY, CRUISE AND PUBLISHED FARES

We understand that many airline policies – in particular those only offering Exchange Travel Credits and not granting refunds – leave you in a difficult position. We continue to lobby our airline partners to give further consideration to the exceptional position tour operators find yourselves in.

Where refunds are permitted, we have dedicated teams working through all requests in departure date order. It is important – where Refunds are allowed – you confirm that you wish us to process the Refund otherwise we will assume you wish to keep the original ticket ‘open’ so that you may re-use for your customers under each airline’s Exchange Travel Credit scheme.

To this end, our plan is to deliver Refunds back to you within the dates as set out in the table below.

Please note, we expect most Tour Operators will prefer a Bank Transfer of their Refunds due rather than a credit on your account. To expedite this, we are working on a process to communicate and enable this. A further update will follow in the next Bulletin on Tuesday as to how we intend to process and confirm these Refunds – although this will not stop us commencing processing as many as possible now (as per the table). For your information, if we have your bank details then we will use this account and if not, we will call you to confirm your bank details.

Processed for Refund (email confirmation sent to you by us) Expected Departure Dates (If refund request received) Expected Payment date (from airlines to us)* Refunds paid to Tour Operator (at latest by)
up to 15 March up until 31 March 02 April 16 April
16 to 31 March up until 31 March 17 April 01 May
01 to 15 April 01 to 22 April 04 May 18 May
16 to 30 April 23 April to 15 May 18 May 01 June

FOR AVIATE

To help you establish the options for your bookings – future Exchange Travel Credits or Refunds – we have an Airline Policy Summary document available. For those clients wishing to rebook using their Exchange Travel Credits then see our guide for here for those passengers wanting a refund and, where the airline allows, you can fill in the Aviate Refund Request form here.

Airlines’ policies can sometimes be difficult to interpret and are constantly evolving. To answer any Airline Policy queries, we have created a new e-mail help service: disruption-queries@aviateworld.com

For Aviate airlines, the above dates and all Refunds are subject to these key factors and future airline updates, as matters evolve:

•We predict our forthcoming BSP ‘payments’ from 17 April onwards will actually be a financial credit due to Aviate from the airlines. IATA have already confirmed any payments due to us will be reimbursed promptly via the BSP scheme. We will need these clear funds from IATA before processing your Refunds to you.

•Offline BSP Refunds. Many airlines are preventing us, and their other consolidators,from claiming Refunds via the GDS but instead forcing us to create manual requests offline via the BSP scheme. This means each claim must be viewed and authorised by each airline and are unable to confirm when these will be actioned and therefore within which remittance, we will receive the payment through the BSP scheme. Our key airlines that are enforcing this currently (although it is a constantly changing situation) include for example: Lufthansa, Vietnam, Emirates, Virgin Atlantic, Turkish Airlines, Air France, KLM, Thai Airways, Oman Air, Norwegian, Singapore, Etc.

To manage expectations some airlines are stating 12 to 16 weeks for authorisation from the BSP claim being processed by us.

We are obviously in discussions with all our airlines on this matter and, in the meantime, processing where we must via BSP. We are working to provide you with further information so that you are aware of the position with individual bookings. More to follow in forthcoming Bulletins.

 

FOR LIME AND ALL BA TICKETS

To help you establish the options for your bookings – future Exchange Travel Credits or Refunds – we have updates related to British Airways policy on a Lime Policy Summary page.

For those passengers, requiring a Refund, where the airline policy allows, and where the booking has not already been converted to an Exchange Travel Credit complete the form here.

Please note, we operate a direct remittance payment schedule with BA and expect credit payments to us from the airline as per the above table.

To answer any British Airways policy queries, we have created a new e-mail help service disruption-queries@lime-management.com.

 

COMMUNICATIONS FROM AND WITH US

Websites – Our websites are constantly updated with latest policies and news.
Lime at lime-management.com/coronavirus-outbreak/
Aviate at aviateworld.com/coronavirus-outbreak/

Bulletin schedule – I will now issue these Bulletins each Tuesday and Friday for the foreseeable future to keep you update on key matters.

Emails – This remains the best way to contact us. It is important to include inthe Subject Field: Departure date, PNR and booking reference.

Chat – We have our Chat services available and manned during normal office hours.

Phones – Unfortunately, our phone system is an office-based system and is notadaptable for working from home (as we all are now). We know we must finda solution to this problem and are currently in discussions with suppliers.Sadly, it will not happen overnight, but rest assured we want to be back onthe phones as soon as possible. In the meantime, hopefully the otherchannels of communication will give you the service you require.

 

SERVICE LEVEL UPDATES

Across the group, teams are servicing all general emails that come in on the day that they are received. Please remember, if you email us after 16:00 you may not receive a response until the next working day.

 

TOPICS FOR BULLETIN 2 (07 APRIL) will

– Group updates
– Refunding process updates.

 

I hope you find these bulletins useful

Mike.

COVID-19 FAQs

Where can I find the latest airline COVID-19 policies?

All websites across our group are constantly updated with our own, and relevant airline policies as soon as we receive them. They can be viewed via:

 

Lime >

Aviate >

Virgin Atlantic Flightstore >

I can't find the specific airline policy I'm looking for, what do I do?

All airline policies that we have received from our airline partners are on the relevant website as per question 1. If you are looking for a specific airline policy that is not listed or are confused as to which policy applies, please contact as below:

Lime – disruption-queries@lime-management.com

Aviate & Virgin Atlantic Flightstore – disruption-queries@aviateworld.com

This email address in only for general policy clarifications and requests.  Individual booking queries will not be responded to.  For individual booking support please contact our general support channels as normal

Where can I find information about the best way to contact you?

From Wednesday 13 May, we will reopen our support phone lines for critical matters. Our primary contact method continues to be email which represents the most efficient way for us to handle enquiries at present, along with online chat.

Please always refer to our dedicated webpages for the most current advice on how to reach us depending on your requirements:

Lime >

Aviate >

Virgin Atlantic Flightstore >

I’ve checked the most recent airline policy; my clients qualify for a refund. How long will it take to process?

This will vary depending on how the airline enables refunding, when we receive the funds from the airline, we will send this on to you. This can take between 8 to 16 weeks, but a forecast on this schedule (assuming airlines make payment to us when expected) has been outlined by Michael Edwards in his bulletins further up this page.

Refunds will only be processed in line with overriding airline and IATA rules.

Lime (Flights) refunds online form >

Aviate refunds: online form >

Virgin Atlantic Flightstore refunds: online form >

How long do exchange travel credits remain valid?

The exchange travel credit is held on your account for as long as the airline policy permits.

You must check the most recent airline policy for full clarification, found via the websites listed in question 1.

Can I use the exchange travel credit against any Aviate airline so long as we book via Aviate?

No.  The exchange travel credit must be used for a booking on the same airline via Aviate.  Some airlines may allow you to reroute.

You must check the most recent airline policy for full clarification, found via the websites listed in question 1.

Can I use my exchange travel credit towards a different customer?

No. Exchange travel credits may only be redeemed against the same party as the original PNR.

You must check the most recent airline policy for full clarification, found via the websites listed in question 1.

How do I keep track of bookings that are eligible for exchange travel credits?

We recommend you keep your own records of those bookings and create an internal process so that all of your teams are aware of the rebooking process.  We are looking to move such bookings into a different status so they can be more easily identified, however this will take time to complete.

You can view your bookings in your online account for Lime, Aviate or Virgin Atlantic Flightstore using the ‘My Bookings’ tab, and filter by ‘Cancelled’.

Do I ticket the new booking as normal when using an exchange travel credit?

No. You must not ticket these bookings yourself. Allowing good time before the ticket deadline, use the ‘Request Price & Ticket’ button in your Flights account which will enable us to manually ticket, alternatively send your ticketing request via email containing the PNR and ticketing deadline in the subject line.

If you and ticket yourself, you will not be able to redeem the exchange travel credit against the new booking.

Considering the current COVID-19 situation, what is the policy from Lime, Aviate and Virgin Atlantic Flightstore in relation to administration fees on refunds if the airline policy allows and my client qualifies?

If a refund is permitted by the airline, we will process refunds in line with that airline’s policy. If the airline does not charge, we will also waive refund fees.

How can we feed back to airlines about their policies?

We are in contact with all airline partners and provide feedback from our customers where appropriate. Of course, this is an unprecedented circumstance, and airlines as well as governing bodies are reactively reviewing and amending policies in the best interest of both the short and long term for all involved.

How safe is it to travel to other countries now?

Unfortunately, we are unable to advise on whether your clients should/shouldn’t travel.  Please always check with the FCO here.

All airline policies can be found here.  A time and date will appear next to any policies which have been updated.

Lime >

Aviate >

Virgin Atlantic Flightstore >

Why did Lime/Aviate/Virgin Atlantic Flightstore take the decision to cancel all flight sectors that were due to travel up until midnight on 30 April 2020?

Our intention was to reduce the pressure that both us and our tour operators are experiencing due the immediacy of amended/cancelled services – and avoid the possibility of a ‘no show’ penalty for you and your clients who are likely to be unable to make their journey at this time.

Note; we only cancelled bookings that fall under our ‘Flights’ services, which includes: Inclusive Tour, Published, Seat Only and Cruise fares. Any Groups bookings were not automatically cancelled.

In retrospect, this action was received well by our customers.