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Full refunds only for Silverjet seats booked through trade

Silverjet passengers who booked through a travel agency or travel management company can expect a full refund after the airline ceased flying this morning, but the majority who booked flights direct will get nothing from the carrier.

The Civil Aviation Authority said up to one-third of the 7,000 UK travellers left ticket-less by the airline’s collapse will be covered because they booked through the trade or bought a ticket as part of a package.

The remainder, and about 2,500 non-UK passengers, will be left to seek compensation from credit-card companies which will not refund the full cost of a purchase.

Silverjet went into administration after failing to secure last-minute funding from an unnamed investor on Thursday. A previous rescue deal, announced early this month, collapsed last week. The business-only carrier’s last flight was due to arrive into Luton from New York this afternoon.

In a statement, chief executive Lawrence Hunt expressed the hope that Silverjet will resume flying, saying: “We are working with new investors prepared to inject new funds so we can recommence operations.”

However, the airline’s entire staff have been told they cease work today.

The financial protection provided to passengers booked through travel agents stems from the way the carrier was set up, with sales through agents made via a Silverjet tour operation and therefore protected by the Air Tour Organiser’s Licence (ATOL) system overseen by the CAA.

This is the system that provides financial protection for all package holidays. Both the UK travel trade and the CAA have argued for it to be extended to airlines, but the Department for Transport has refused.

British Airways has offered Silverjet passengers the chance to re-book flights from Heathrow and will waive both its advance-purchase and Saturday-night stay rules to reduce the cost of re-booking. Virgin Atlantic is offering one way upper class fares to New York for £899.

Silverjet launched in January 2007 and flew twice a day between Luton and New York and daily between Luton and Dubai. Its sales through agents were protected by ATOL 9250.

Customers should contact their travel agent or visit the CAA website at atol.org.uk.




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