THE cessation of the tourism and aviation industry due to the COVID-19 pandemic caused consumers to flock to ask for refunds for tickets that were canceled because the situation made it impossible to travel. However, there are airlines that choose not to give money, but rather flight ticket vouchers that can be used later on.

According to Flight Observer Gerry Soejatman said, giving vouchers was a middle way to keep ignoring the rights of consumers while maintaining the sustainability of the airline. If returned (all) in cash, the airline could go bankrupt.

“During the pandemic, the tourism and aviation industries lost revenue. On the other hand, business people must also continue to pour out operational funds even though there is not enough income. In the beginning of March to June airplane ticket reservations for domestic destinations in Indonesia fell by 30%, while international tickets dropped by 70%,” he said.

He added, the reduced frequency of flights that dropped dramatically from a maximum of 1,200 flights a day to 80 flights a day. In the midst of a 90% decrease in revenue, airlines still have to pay employee salaries to operational aircraft. This makes the voucher an option for refunding or refunding airline tickets.

Gerry explained, requests for a refund before a pandemic usually only reached one percent of the total ticket purchase. As a result of the pandemic, demand has exploded up to 100 times, making airlines and travel agents overwhelmed and need more time.

Under normal conditions, refunds in the form of cash can be given by travel agents from other consumer transactions. However, there was no velocity of money during the pandemic making refunds in cash difficult to achieve.

“Previously, a small amount was refunded, now it’s piled up. It’s not just about where the cash is from, but the process is too long. Vouchers as a substitute for cash refunds become the middle point for airlines that are in a pinched position,” Gerry noted.

He stressed, if forced to replace all canceled customer tickets with cash, the airline could go bankrupt and cause the industry to collapse.

Meanwhile Secretary General of the Indonesian Travel Agent Association (ASTINDO) Pauline Suharno added, each airline had different rules. There are those who can’t refund cash and replace it with vouchers.

“ASTINDO has struggled for cash refund as an option desired by consumers. But looking at the conditions now, the refund voucher is also not bad,” she finished. [antaranews]