Qantas Group has announced a reversal of its decision to expire so-called Covid credits at the end of this year.

A total of $2 billion in travel credits were issued across the group as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, and in March Qantas announced a fourth and “final” extension to the validity of the credits.

This stipulated that the credits would need to be used as part or full payment for bookings by 31 December, 2023, for travel by December 2024.

But the group now says that Qantas customers with Covid credits can request a cash refund indefinitely (system limitations mean they won’t be directly convertible into travel beyond 31 December, 2023), while Jetstar customers can indefinitely use their Covid vouchers for flights.

The move follows a statement by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, in which it said it had written to Qantas “strongly objecting” to a proposed expiry date for the travel credits, and would “continue to monitor the situation to ensure Qantas continues to make available refunds to consumers”.

In the same statement the ACCC says it is also taking Qantas to court over what it says was “false, misleading or deceptive conduct” by the carrier in advertising flights for sale which had already been cancelled – more information on this can be seen here.

Qantas Group said that to “encourage more people to reconnect with their credits”, it is offering double Frequent Flyer Points for any flights booked using Covid credits between 4 September and 31 December, 2023.

The group’s CEO Alan Joyce has also sent video message to customers holding Covid credits, which states:

“Hello, I’m Alan Joyce.

“Today we’re scrapping the expiry dates on all travel credits that came out of Covid. If you have a Qantas Covid credit, you can request a cash refund at any point in the future. And if you have a Jetstar Covid voucher, you can use it for travel indefinitely.

“These credits and vouchers will never expire. We’re doing this because we’ve listened. We know the credit system was not as smooth as it should have been. And, while we’ve improved it recently, and extended the expiry date several times, people lost faith in the process.

“We hope this helps change that. We also hope that a lot of people still choose to put their credit towards their next journey.

“That’s why we’re also announcing a double Frequent Flyer Point offer when you book a flight with your Qantas Covid credit before the end of the year.

“All up, this is one of the most flexible approaches that any airline has taken to its COVID credits. And it comes on top of the huge amount of work happening to improve how we serve you, every day.

“We’ll keep reaching out directly to everyone with a Covid voucher or credit with information on how to redeem.

“Please read the detail in the emails we’re sending you. And, if you booked with a travel agent, please contact them directly. On behalf of everyone at the Qantas Group…thank you.”