The chief executive of the International Airlines Group says that member carrier British Airways has processed cash refunds on over 900,000 tickets cancelled as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Willie Walsh was asked to provide details on refunds when he appeared before the Transport Select Committee earlier this week, and in a letter to the chair Huw Merriman MP (dated May 13), Walsh wrote that BA had provided cash refunds on 921,000 tickets involving 2.1 million flights.

Walsh added that 47,400 bookings remained outstanding and “are being processed”.

He also provided figures for the issuing of vouchers where customers have cancelled their bookings, with 346,000 already processed and 1,700 requested but not yet processed.

Walsh wrote that “I believe this demonstrates the excellent work being done by the team at British Airways to respond to the needs of our customers”.

At the Select Committee hearing Walsh warned that the group’s capacity into and out of the UK “would be pretty minimal” in the event of a quarantine period for arrivals into the UK, and in the letter to Merriman Walsh added:

“The Prime Minister’s decision to quarantine people arriving in the UK, by air, and the Health Secretary’s comments that it was unlikely that ‘big, lavish international holidays’ were going to be possible this summer, have seriously set back recovery plans for our industry”.

He also stressed that IAG “we will not pause our consultations [over redundancies] or put our plans on hold”, despite this week’s announcement over the extension of the government’s Job Retention Scheme until October.

“We commend the Chancellor for his decision and applaud his efforts to breathe some life into a dying economy. His actions will provide some additional relief to our people and our business,” wrote Walsh.

“However, we must act now to secure the maximum number of jobs possible, consistent with the reality of a structurally changed airline industry in a severely weakened global economy.”,