Calls for Air New Zealand to follow Qantas and issue COVID credit refunds – Air NZ CEO takes calls live on radio from affected travellers

Young Asian businesswoman sad and unhappy at the airport with flight canceled.
Edited by Travel Weekly

    There are growing calls for Air New Zealand to follow Qantas’ lead and allow cash refunds for credits that resulted from cancelled COVID-19 travel.

    Consumer NZ CEO Jon Duffy told Travel Weekly unlike Australia, Kiwis have minimal protection in the area of airline credits and refunds.

    “We have been campaigning for better consumer protection for cancelled flights through our Flight Rights campaign.

    “Unfortunately, airlines in NZ can get away with offering credits because of our weak consumer protection laws for cancelled flights,” he said.

    If those credits expire, consumers essentially get nothing for their money and we don’t think that’s fair.”

    “We’re pleased to see Qantas has ditched the expiration date for Covid-19 travel credits. It would be great if Air NZ followed their lead.”

    Speaking to Newstalk ZB this morning Air New Zealand CEO Greg Foran described the COVID credit situation as complex, pointing out that different airlines have different conditions of carriage (COC).

    “You know, we’ve been flying for over 80 years, we want to still be flying and another 80 years time, we need to ensure that the business is healthy and vibrant and innovative and all of those things that we want it to be.

    “But, you also got to do what’s right, and what’s right for all stakeholders.

    “Part of the conditions that we have is when we get something that is an unavoidable event, we can actually take a non-refundable ticket and put it into credit,” Foran said.

    “That’s a condition that we have in the contract with every customer when they buy that non-refundable ticket. And that’s what we’ve done with some credits as you can fly up to the value of your non-refundable ticket,” he said.

    “So if you had purchased a ticket, and it was a non-refundable ticket, instead of you know, wiping our hands of that, which we would never do.

    “That wouldn’t be right,” he said.

    Foran said about 80 to 83 per cent of customers have used their credits, but Air New Zealand was still left with “a couple of 100 million dollars” worth on the books.

    Earlier this year, Aotearoa’s national carrier announced a pre-tax profit of NZ$585 million (A$538 million) for its 2023 financial year. A massive turn-around from a pre-tax loss of NZ$725 million (A$667 million) the previous year.

    Air New Zealand’s annual results showed the airline’s revenue more than doubled to NZ$6.4 billion (A$5.8 billion).

    Greg Foran took calls from listeners of the station on Friday morning, with most callers being told their situations would be dealt with off-air – a situation that likely had phone lines running red-hot at the radio station.

    ‘I’m not affected, but I find it depressing that people have to speak to Greg to get things sorted,” one texter to Newstalk ZB said.

    “Ross says I’m completely unaffected. But, I find it quite depressing your callers need to speak to Greg to get someone to listen,” one text to the station read.

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