Airlines cannot afford to refund cancelled tickets: IATA

LONDON (Reuters) - Global airlines cannot afford to refund cancelled flights because of the coronavirus crisis, said the head of the industry’s representative body IATA, and carriers are issuing vouchers instead as they conserve cash to survive.

“The key element for us is to avoid running out of cash so refunding the cancelled ticket for us is almost unbearable financially speaking,” IATA Director General Alexandre De Juniac told an online news conference on Tuesday.

Airlines have been criticised by consumer groups for breaking rules over providing refunds within set time limits.

IATA also said that one-third of global airline employees have either been furloughed or lost their jobs.

Reporting by Sarah Young; Editing by Edmund Blair