“For flight-only bookings or single component, we are not the principals; it’s the airlines. So, we just liaise with the airlines on behalf of our customers, but can’t enforce it [refunding]. The regulators should have done this, but it hasn’t happened,” said Southall Travel COO Jaymin Borkhatria. (Representational image: iStock)
Eastern Eye Staff
TRAVEL TROLLEY, the online arm of Southall Travel, has reiterated that it cannot “enforce” refunds of air tickets cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The company’s clarification came in response to concerns raised by a reader who referred to an article in Eastern Eye featuring Southall Travel COO Jaymin Borkhatria.
Southall Travel, which handles 1.1 million clients annually in the UK, said it processed refunds worth more than £22 million relating to about 95 per cent of its customers by the middle of June.
“The customers will remember the agents who stood by them during these challenging times and we are probably the only agent who has refunded majority of our customers,” Borkhatria, who also heads Travel Trolley, had told Eastern Eye at that time.
According to the reader, said to be a Travel Trolley customer, he hadn’t received refund for a Thai Airways ticket booked via the travel company.
Borkhatria explained: “For flight-only bookings or single component, we are not the principals; it’s the airlines. So, we just liaise with the airlines on behalf of our customers, but can’t enforce it [refunding]. The regulators should have done this, but it hasn’t happened.”
In the June interview to Eastern Eye, Borkhatria mentioned the issue: “For flight only or single component [bookings], we are not the principals, the airline is… and we have to adhere with the airlines policy on refunds, which can be challenging and frustrating not only for us, but more important, our customers.”
Referring to the customer’s concern, Borkhatria said Thai Airways was “not approving refund applications, which is the big issue”.
Thai Airways has, in fact, placed all ticket refunds on hold.
“As Thai [Thai Airways] is currently undergoing rehabilitation proceedings through the Central Bankruptcy Court, the company regrets to inform its customers that it is temporarily prohibited from processing any refund requests at this time,” the carrier recently said in a statement.
“We sincerely apologise to our customers regarding the business reorganization process, which temporarily barred us from proceeding with the airfare refund. Nevertheless, current air ticket holders can use the ticket and postpone the travel dates when the company resumes the operation in compliance with the easing of Thailand’s Covid-19 surveillance, prevention, and control measures in respect of inbound and outbound flights.”
Borkhatria maintained that Southall Travel had “refunded all our customers where we have received the refunds”.
“In the case of airlines [such as Thai Airways] that haven’t approved refund applications, we are chasing them on daily basis on behalf of the customers,” he added.