A travel agency boss who said A Current Affair host Tracy Grimshaw needed ‘a good slap across the face’ over her show’s reporting of the industry amid coronavirus has resigned.
Australian Federation of Travel Agents chief executive Jayson Westbury stood down on Wednesday after criticising the host for her remarks about the travel industry’s woes.
An agency spokesperson said Mr Westbury’s resignation follows ‘his recent comments directed at Tract Grimshaw and the program’s coverage of the travel industry’s response to the corionavirus’.
‘While Mr Westbury stressed that his comments should not be taken literally and has apologised publicly and to Ms Grimshaw, he has also acknowledged that the comments were inappropriate and unacceptable in any circumstances, as well as being at odds with the views of AFTA and its member companies and agencies,’ a statement read.
A Current Affair host Tracy Grimshaw (pictured) has been reporting on the the travel industry’s refund scandals
Australian Federation of Travel Agents chief executive Jayson Westbury (pictured) told members in an online seminar that A Current Affair host Tracy Grimshaw ‘needs to be given a firm uppercut or a slap across the face’ for running a series of negative stories about the industry. He immediately walked back the comments and said he did not mean it literally
‘His choice of words cannot be condoned… Given the circumstances, AFTA’s board has unanimously agreed to accept Mr Westbury’s resignation.’
It comes after Mr Westbury on Tuesday attacked the veteran TV presenter for ACA’s ongoing coverage of the industry’s struggles to refund customers for cancelled airfares and accommodation.
‘Things have continued this week. I won’t ever be watching [ACA] again. I think that Tracy Grimshaw needs to be given a firm uppercut or a good slap across the face, and I mean that virtually, of course, I wouldn’t want to invoke any violence on anyone,’ he said.
‘But, I mean, some of the behaviour and some of the language that’s being used on that program is just outrageous.
‘There have been some pretty ordinary A Current Affair stories going on about members of AFTA, look as far as I’m concerned no one is guilty of anything.’
Since the coronavirus crisis was declared a pandemic in early March, the global travel industry has been decimated.
According to Pew Research, over 90 percent of the world’s population are now living with some form of travel restrictions.
Anyone entering Australia from overseas is now required to undergo 14-days of quarantine to. Pictured: Stranded crew from cruise ship are being sent home on repatriation flights in Sydney
In Australia, even regional domestic travel has been banned across most of the country to slow the spread of COVID-19.
With would-be holidaymakers cancelling their pre-booked trips in droves, some have been unable to get a full refund from their travel agents.
The Age reported a Melbourne midwife was left ‘crying for days’ after being left out-of-pocket and losing half the money she spent to book a dream $20,000 family holiday to Europe and Disneyland.
In the audio, Mr Westbury said he would like to address these issues on the A Current Affair program to share the industry’s side of the story.
‘We are doing what we can from the point of view of talking with their producers and various reporters,’ he said.
‘We have said very clearly that we will go on the program but only if it is live.
‘I’m not prepared to have a pre-recorded (interview) for them to cut and paste the bits that they would like to suit their story and of course they are not very happy about that.’
Australian residents returning from Indian are pictured being escorted by a member of the Australian Navy
Australian Law firm Slater and Gordon has launched a class action lawsuit against major airlines, travel agents and tour companies who have refused to issue monetary refunds and instead opted for travel vouchers and credits.
‘We understand that everyone is doing it tough at present, including the major airlines and travel companies, but that doesn’t give them an excuse to take advantage of their customers,’ Slater and Gordon Practice Group Leader Andrew Paull said.
The law firm believes major travel providers may have breached their legal obligations by putting in place travel voucher schemes that significantly disadvantage their customers.
‘We believe cash refunds should be returned to customers, who almost certainly need that money right now,’ Paull said.
Why you might NEVER get a refund from Virgin Australia: Airline plans to hand customers credits instead of cash for cancelled flights
Hundreds of thousands of Virgin Australia customers left out of pocket due to cancelled flights may never see their money again.
The embattled airline ceased issuing refunds and travel credits for flights grounded by the coronavirus pandemic after it went into voluntary administration in April.
Accounting giant Deloitte has received 340,000 refund requests from customers since it took control of the cash-strapped airline after 65,000 flights were cancelled between March 1 and April 30.
Administrator Vaughan Strawbridge has proposed to compensate affected passengers with ‘conditional travel credit’ rather than cash refunds in an affidavit filed to the Federal Court on Tuesday.
Virgin Australia passengers owed a refund for cancelled flights may not get their money back. Pictured are passengers checking in at Brisbane Airport on April 21, the day the cash-strapped airline went into administration
The credit would be valid while the airline is in administration.
Customers who have not claimed or used their credits during the process will be ‘unlikely to receive a 100 per cent refund on any restructuring or upon liquidation’.
‘The Conditional Credit scheme offers those customers the possibility of realising 100 per cent of the value of their refund by using the credit on a future flight or holiday package,’ the court application states.
Mr Strawbridge added credits were ‘necessary to preserve as much goodwill associated with the Virgin brand and business as possible for a buyer’.
The decision whether to honour Virgin travel credit or give a refund will be up to its new owners.
The coronavirus pandemic resulted in the collapse of Virgin Australia. Pictured is an empty Virgin Australia check-in area at Brisbane Airport on April 21
‘Potential buyers may be motivated to extend these conditional credits as part of any restructuring or recapitalisation of the Virgin Companies’ business for the purposes of maintaining and enhancing the customer goodwill associated with the Virgin Companies,’ Mr Strawbridge said.
Of the 19 parties that have expressed interest in buying the airline, eight signed confidentiality agreements to gain access to Virgin’s books.
Apollo Global Management, Oaktree Capital Management, Indigo Partners, and BGH Capital are among the potential buyers.
The court application also seeks to limit the administrators’ liability for debts incurred from Virgin and for essential services such as ground handling, fuel, maintenance and in-flight catering.
The case will be heard in the Federal Court on Wednesday.