ABTA Members aim to have repatriated more than 100,000 British passengers by the end of this weekend, ABTA reports. This figure equates to more than two thirds of those stranded abroad as a result of the volcanic ash situation. ABTA believes that the vast majority of stranded passengers will be back home by the end of the week ending 30 April.
Mark Tanzer, ABTA Chief Executive said: “While most flights are back to normal, and most stranded British passengers will be back by the end of this weekend, there is still quite a high level of disruption in some destinations. In some areas of the world, there is a significant lack of air capacity to enable British people to be returned quickly. ABTA, its Members and the Foreign Office have been working together to bring people back as quickly as possible.”
Over the past week, ABTA Members have been working round the clock to help stranded customers, or those whose holidays have been cancelled.
ABTA tour operators have provided assistance to stranded passengers on a day to day basis, and put together contingency plans to bring people back to the UK. They have chartered extra flights and found alternative forms of transport.
Travel agents have provided invaluable advice and help to customers in rebooking new holidays and helping with the process of refunds. Agents are often able to get through to travel suppliers far quicker than consumers themselves. When they can’t, travel agent staff have been spending their time and money on premium telephone lines sourcing alternatives as part of their after sales service. Some agents have even literally gone more than the ‘extra mile’ by driving to pick up stranded customers and returning them home.
ABTA Members have also had back up from their trade association as ABTA has been providing up to the minute information from all the relevant authorities. Through the past week ABTA has helped members with understanding their legal obligations and has met with Ministers and Government departments to provide information on Members’ activities and requests.
Mark Tanzer added: “Our Members have done everything they can to look after customers so that they are not on their own. The feedback we have had is that many thousands of people have been delighted and profoundly relieved that they chose to book with an ABTA Member.”