‘Give families automatic refunds for cancelled holidays’, says Grant Shapps

·2-min read
Queues at Gatwick (Stephen Jones/PA) (PA Wire)
Queues at Gatwick (Stephen Jones/PA) (PA Wire)

Holidaymakers should get automatic refunds for cancelled foreign holidays like they do for delayed domestic trains, Grant Shapps said on Sunday.

But the Transport Secretary ruled out sending in the Army to help families trapped in travel chaos seen at airports during the half-term getaway.

He also rejected calls to open the door to more “cheap” foreign workers in a bid to relieve the pressure on the aviation sector.

Air passengers have faced days of disruption at Britain’s airports, with a total of 20 flights listed as cancelled at Gatwick on Saturday, while 17 were marked as delayed.

Speaking to the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme, Mr Shapps said change was need to ensure “proper disputes resolution” for passengers offering “quick and straightforward compensation” or another flight.

He said: “It can’t be acceptable that it is so complicated sometimes to get a flight rearranged or to get your money back. I want it to be more like delay repay works on trains, where it is an automated process.”

He said further changes were coming to try to avoid similar scenes for the summer holidays.

Grant Shapps (Gareth Fuller/PA) (PA Wire)
Grant Shapps (Gareth Fuller/PA) (PA Wire)

“It is very important that flights aren’t oversold, for example, and I want to make sure there is automatic compensation for passengers,” he told the broadcaster.

Following a meeting with airports, airlines and ground handling companies last week, the Cabinet minister said he had answered industry demands to speed up security checks for workers and allow some staff in non-security related jobs to take up training immediately.

But he said it is up to the sector to fix the issues, accusing bosses of “cutting too far” during the coronavirus pandemic, despite receiving £8 billion of state support and having access to furlough money to keep staff on the books while travel restrictions were in place.

Shapps said: “We’ll work with the industry very hard between now and the summer to make sure we don’t see a repeat of those scenes.

“Clearly, they have been taken by surprise by the way people have returned to travel after two years of being locked down, but I’m not surprised – we were saying all along: ‘You will need to be ready for this’.”

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