At their latest media briefing, held on 7th April 2020, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Director General and CEO, Alexandre de Juniac, shared new analysis showing that 25 million jobs are at risk of disappearing, due to a steep decline in demand caused by the COVID- 19 crisis.

Air Travel Demand Down by 70% Air travel demand dropped by 70% at the start of the second quarter, with airlines burning through an astonishing $61 billion in cash.

Cash Refunds Could Take Airlines to The Brink

With these, never before seen, statistics it might come as no surprise that airline finances are now so fragile they can’t afford to refund customers. De Juniac explained to reporters why customers should accept vouchers.

“The key element for [airlines] is to avoid running out of cash, so refunding the canceled ticket for us is almost unbearable financially speaking.”

For cash strapped customers this will not satisfy everyone and rules in many parts of the world, such as EU261 in the European Union, require airlines to pay refunds in cash.

The     IATA estimate that around $35 billion worth of tickets were due for a refund by the end of the second quarter. With airlines at a high risk of going bust, if they pay the refunds in cash, the IATA has approached governments to ask them not to force airlines to provide cash refunds.

US airlines have been told they must refund tickets for flights that they cancel. Following a rising number of consumer complaints and inquiries; including a passenger who filed a class-action lawsuit against United Airlines, for refusing to pay a refund after his family’s flight was canceled.

The fact remains that millions of jobs are on the line.