Robert Boyle, a former IAG employee who flagged the IAG figures, said that when airlines were forced to cancel a huge number of flights during the epidemic, they encouraged customers to accept vouchers for future travel rather than issue refunds.
Mr Boyle questioned how many of the vouchers will ever be used after so many vouchers have yet to be redeemed.
If 20% of the original €1.4 bn 1.24 bn of vouchers are unused, that would be a €280 m 248 m release to profit. IAG will have extra seats available to sell if the vouchers are never used. The cash value of seats will be larger than the reported voucher values because of what happened to ticket prices since the pandemic. BA said that when a flight was cancelled, it always offered the option to get a full refund, rebook or reroute. It never automatically issued vouchers, which had to be requested by a passenger.
It said BA had already contacted them to offer a full refund for customers who had been due to travel on a cancelled flight between 9 March 2020 and 19 November 2020 and that they had been told by the airline during the height of the epidemic.