AIRLINES are begging the UK government to allow them to keep passengers' money for their cancelled flights and to offer vouchers instead.
They are also asking to only refund the flights once the coronavirus crisis is over.
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Airlines UK, which has members including British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair, has also asked for Air Passenger Duty to be suspended for six months to encourage people to book flights again.
With no revenue, the airlines have been forced to ground hundreds of planes, putting thousands of jobs and the future of the sector at risk.
The letter sent to the government, seen by Sky News, asked: "Carriers should also be permitted to issue vouchers instead of refunds and, should refunds be required, carriers should be permitted to defer payment until the crisis period is over and as defined by air traffic volumes, rather than time period."
This would mean deferring claims under EU law EC261 which allows passengers refunds from airlines for cancelled flights.
Instead, vouchers would be given or refunds would be issued at a later date.
The letter added: "We believe a number of such measures are necessary to enable aviation both to deal with the ongoing crisis in the short-term but also to support and accelerate a strong UK recovery later in the year."
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The request came after Finance Minister Rishi Sunak's blow to hopes for a specific aviation rescue package when he said the government would only provide support if airlines could not raise capital from other sources, such as existing investors.
Airlines UK also represents Jet2, TUI and Norwegian.
Holidaymakers are already being asked to take vouchers instead of refunds, to prevent airlines sinking.
Twitter user Jill Campbell, who was due to go on a hen party, wrote: "We were due to fly the 1st of April but have only been offered vouchers?"
Someone else added: "What’s the use of a voucher when we have no idea when travel will be normal again?"
Airlines are asking for help from the government, warning the aviation industry is at risk of "collapse" because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The pilots union boss said the aviation sector had been "hit first and hardest" by the pandemic leading to the downturn.
British Airline Pilots Association chief Brian Strutton said: "Airlines can't survive with no revenue coming in and are already cutting wages and jobs."
An Airlines UK spokesperson told Sun Online Travel: "A million people work in UK aviation all over the country.
"It is one of the UK's international assets, as the third largest globally behind only China and the US. We welcome that the Government will enter into negotiations with individual airlines, but we also want to work with them on policy actions that could be taken now which could also have a considerable impact."
"We are not looking to suspend EU261 but, rather, for carriers to be given temporary flexibility to defer payment until the crisis period is over (and as defined by air traffic volumes), and for carriers to be able to offer vouchers instead of refunds where applicable."
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British tourists are also asking for help as they struggle to get home following the mass grounding of flights.
Many are turning to crowdfunding websites as they find themselves stuck in countries such as Peru, the Philippines and Florida.
Elizabeth Hazlewood, who is stuck in Tunisia, said: "I am running out of money rapidly. I really am stressed because of the situation and feel totally lost and alone."