Representative trade body Airlines UK is reported to have written to the government, asking for permission for UK airlines to be allowed to issue vouchers and defer refunds.

In a letter seen by Sky News, which addressed the issue of suspending Air Passenger Duty for a period of six months, the association said that “Carriers should also be permitted to issue vouchers instead of refunds and, should refunds be required, carriers should be permitted to defer payment until the crisis period is over and as defined by air traffic volumes, rather than time period”.

An increasing number of Business Traveller readers are reporting that airlines are pushing them towards taking vouchers in lieu of refunds for cancelled flights, or alternatively accepting open tickets until such time as new travel dates can be arranged.

Several airlines are also offering added incentives in an attempt to persuade customers to take vouchers – Aer Lingus is offering 10 per cent on top of the value of the ticket purchased, while Etihad Airways customers will get up to 5,000 loyalty miles (depending on class of travel booked) on top of the credit.

Airlines UK provided Business Traveller with the following comment:

“A million people work in UK aviation all over the country. It is one of the UK’s international assets, as the third largest globally behind only China and the US. We welcome that the Government will enter into negotiations with individual airlines, but we also want to work with them on policy actions that could be taken now which could also have a considerable impact.”

The association also said that “On vouchers, we are looking for carriers to be given temporary flexibility to defer refund payments until the crisis period is over (and as defined by air traffic volumes) and for carriers to be able to offer vouchers instead of refunds”.