The Austrian Airlines Group has implemented the Austrian Prepaid Card, which replaces previous cash payments for passenger compensation in international aviation. With this special prepaid card based on Maestro, Austrian Airlines is the first airline handled by Europay Austria. Passengers can use this card 15 minutes after activation for payment or cash withdrawal worldwide.
Since the establishment of the EU Directive for passenger rights in February 2005, airlines must hold a certain cash amount at their airport and sales offices, to be able to refund tickets or make compensation payments in cash in case of flight irregularities or cancellations. In order to create a customer friendly and logistic feasible solution, the Austrian Airlines Group and Europay Austria have developed and implemented a joint project.
If a flight is overbooked or cancelled the cash payment is replaced by the “prepaid card”, a plastic chip card loaded with the respective amount. The prepaid card functions in the same way as a bank cash card. The card is handed to the passenger together with a PIN code: once the card has been activated by the ticket agent the passenger can withdraw the amount from 950,000 cash dispensers worldwide or at 7 million cashless payment terminals.
Austrian Chief Commercial Officer Dr. Josef E. Burger commenting on the advantages: “With the implementation of the Austrian Prepaid Card we are taking on a pioneering role in the international airline sector. We see this project as an opportunity to demonstrate the highest possible standards of professionalism and offer customer friendly solutions in the difficult situation, when flight irregularities occur.”
“For us it is the first product not related to the bank sector. Europay is now able to offer tailor-made products for other industries”, Peter Neubauer, Managing Director of Europay Austria is happy to announce. “We are proud, to enter this new dynamic business sector together with Austrian Airlines. With prepaid cards more product ideas can be developed and offered.”
The card can be loaded with amounts from EUR 10 to EUR 1,000 - depending on the compensation. The first two withdrawals as well as five payments are free. The card is valid for 6 months after activation. Afterwards it is possible for another two years to send the card to Europay for discharging and transfer of money. The balance can be checked via telephone.
Within the Star Alliance Austrian has a pioneer role with this card and other members have already shown interest. The solution for Austrian developed by Europay is web-based and therefore very flexible.
The pilot project is implemented in Vienna for a period of about one year. At the end of the pilot phase operative criteria and customer acceptance will be assessed in order to decide whether the project should be continued. The potential for using the Prepaid Card in our overseas stations will also be investigated.