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IATA COVID-19 Weekly Bulletin – 11 May 2020

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Dear Industry Partners,

IATA is eager to keep you posted on measures being taken to work with the industry on responding to the major impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Hoping you find this weekly bulletin of value to you as our valued business partners.

Aleks Popovich

This bulletin and its content is distributed by IATA and may not be distributed or communicated outside of your organization.

Financial Settlement Operations

Complaints on Refunds by Agents Associations

Through the Passenger Agency Programme Global Joint Council (PAPGJC), global travel agency associations have expressed their concerns over refund restrictions and refund policies that several Airlines have implemented in the past few weeks.

Recently, IATA received a message from ECTAA that includes a list of Airlines which the association has identified as having disabled refund channels or delaying the approval of refunds through the BSP, and therefore, ECTAA alleges, are not respecting the IATA rules (Resolution 824r) and/or in breach of EU Air Passenger Rights Regulation 261/2004.

The communication from ECTAA demands IATA to take appropriate measures to ensure Airlines address ECTAA’s concerns and ends by indicating that they will have to inform regulators and governments about the infringements. IATA has sent letters to the PAConf Delegate and treasurers of those airlines reported by ECTAA.

IATA’s Director General has reminded Airline CEOs it is important for these airlines to review the various rules, regulations and legislations around the world regarding refunds and to seek legal advice concerning refund obligations in the jurisdictions where they operate. The Financial Advisory Council (FinAC), Legal Advisory Council and Legal Forum have also been informed accordingly of this situation.

ADM COVID-19 Emergency Toolkit

The ADM Group has come together to evaluate the possible areas that need to be addressed to ensure the efficient and streamlined management of ADMs during these unprecedented times. The main key aspects are related to the efficient and fluid communication on the Airline’s policies and future audit.

The COVID-19 Emergency Toolkit for ADM Management has been put together with a set of tips and best practices to help the industry manage ADMs more efficiently in this environment.

Recommendations from global travel agent and system providers’ community to Airlines

IATA received a set of recommendations (pdf) jointly drafted by WTAAA, UFTAA, ECTAA and TravelTech, reflecting the views of the distribution value chain in regards to the use of vouchers and refunds, and for Airlines to consider individually.

While the Travel Agency Community does not generally endorse the utilization of vouchers and reinforces the need to ensure that local regulations are respected, it encourages each individual airline to endorse these recommendations aimed at providing more flexibility in voucher policies in order to be more attractive, and therefore more accepted by the consumers.

It was agreed at the PAPGJC conference call held on May 7 that these recommendations would be shared with all Airlines for review and consideration.

Airlines are invited to provide IATA with any feedback they may have.


 

Currency Repatriation
Watch List Countries

  • Reporting: Airlines are strongly encouraged to use the Currency Center reporting tool and report any currency repatriation difficulty every month. This information is essential to have a clear industry picture that we can share with you and also use in our advocacy efforts.
  • The updated IATA Currency Repatriation Heatmap (pdf) is now availble and has also been updated in Currency Center.
  • The government in Lebanon has agreed on a recovery plan. This plan, used as a negotiation basis with IMF, maintains the currency peg for now, before introducing a policy of a flexible exchange rate in the coming period. IATA  has established a local task force a few weeks ago when the situation deteriorated impacting international transfers. A virtual meeting will be held next week to discuss the possibility of engaging with the Central Bank to address current local balances and maintaining BSP operations in USD. 
  • The IMF approved a $2.5Bln loan facility to the Caribbean in order to face the massive loss from tourism stop since the recession is expected to reach its heaviest level for more than 50 years. Haiti could benefit from immediate debt facility ($20M) in order to address the critical health situation. The urgent health assistance needed by Jamaica is also under consideration by the IMF and will be reviewed in the coming weeks.
  • Ecuador has been one of the hardest-hit country in the Latin American region by the pandemic and seeing an exacerbation of its already low reserves. The IMF approved $643M as an emergency assistance to address the pandemic and needed measures. 
  • Argentina’s government has been in an impasse with its international creditors, who rejected the three years debt service moratorium requested. The Minister of Economy recently suggested that a ninth sovereign default would be considered if the creditors didn’t consider easing the financial burden allowing the country to tackle economic and support measures needed as a result of the pandemic. Analysts say a default would prevent Argentina’s government, regions and companies benefiting from financial markets for credit. This would lead to a series of consequences including further deterring the reserves and weakening the Peso. 
  • Fitch Ratings revises Brazil’s outlook to negative: affirms Long-Term Foreign Currency Issuer Default Rating at ‘BB-‘
  • The IMF approved a $226M disbursement to Cameroon and $91M to Malawi to help the countries’ mitigation plan in response to the pandemic.   

Below is the latest IATA watch list of countries:

IATA COVID-19 Weekly Bulletin - 11 May 2020 1

Advocacy

Vouchers Repository and other related initiatives

Repository of Airline Policies for Travel Agents

IATA is aware of the difficulty for agents to access and process vouchers policy information from each participating airline in a timely manner.

Therefore, with the goal of facilitating greater transparency and efficiency, IATA has developed a central repository for airline vouchers and ticket exchange policies: www.iata.org/vouchers-exchange-policies.

IATA is actively working on collecting this information from most of our Member Airlines. We encourage travel agency partners to use this tool as a neutral and trusted source of information.

Information on Standards to support voucher processes

IATA published an information paper for airlines (pdf) on Customer Vouchers in COVID-19 crisis. Further information on existing industry standards supporting voucher processes has now been compiled and is available as the Customer Vouchers Guidelines to IATA Standards (pdf).

Other IATA Newsletters

IATA PAConf News – 1 April

IATA Airline Finance Professionals LinkedIn community – the voice of Airline Finance

Now you can easily access a summary of all BSP & CASS Operational updates through our “COVID-19 Updates Service” on the IATA Customer Portal

AME Insights

Europe Region blog

Asia Pacific Digest

IATA in the AmericasAir Pulse (subscribe to Air Pulse – IATA’s monthly Financial & Distribution News, for free)

The impact of COVID-19 on the travel industry is unprecedented and unpredictable. The nature of the content that is being shared on the ASATA coronavirus microsite is therefore constantly changing. Please check the date of the post to ascertain its recency.
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