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A stop sale is never good news for anyone, and 9 airlines from around the globe have now been put on stop sale by leading travel agencies, following unprecedented concerns around the global pandemic.

From the Far East to the Middle East and Europe, many leading travel agents have been told they’re no longer allowed to issue tickets on a variety of carriers, so here’s everything you need to know…

9 Airlines On Stop Sale

Many leading travel agencies have placed “stop sales” on 9 global airlines, which effectively means no more tickets sold or issued until further notice due to insurance carriers dropping coverage.

This does not mean all travel agents will stop sale, and online travel agencies operate differently, but it’s absolutely not a good indication. All previously issued tickets with these airlines still carry all previous protections.

The 9 airlines just added to stop sale include…

Air Malta, Air Baltic, Cathay Pacific, Korean Airlines, Kuwait Airways, Norwegian, TUI, Virgin Australia and Vietnam Airlines.

What “Stop Sale” Means And What It Doesn’t

Make no mistake – this by no means any of these airlines are going bust, though for some it may be more indicative than others. Regardless of reason, stop sales are vicious cycles for airlines, since they rarely happen to those with no worries, and often happen to those who need bookings and cash the most.

What this does mean is that these airlines are either temporarily suspending some or all flights, and or that there are solvency concerns – aka whether the airline will go bust and leave the travel agency and their clients high and dry. For some airlines, these are legitimate concerns.

Travel agents offer financial and booking protections that help customers when plans change or when an airline has unforeseen circumstances, and a “stop sale” typically means that an underlying insurance policy or contingency agreement has been pulled for the airline in question.

When an airline is at its greatest risk, payment processors withhold money, which makes matters worse for the airline in question.

First Blows Of The Global Pandemic?

Travel demand the world is plunging, and despite years of record profit for many airlines, many were never able to turn the corner in time. With certain areas such as Asia impacted in greater ways than others thus far, some airlines are also experiencing nearly unforeseeable overnight drops for demand entirely.

With constant changes to border restrictions and new medical advice daily, travel confidence is low and even those undeterred by health effects fear mandatory quarantine or restrictions or issues getting home. Just like the airlines, one can only hope that solutions, certainty and safety come soon, otherwise the future is quite bleak for airlines all around the world…

Despite any travel concerns, it generally makes sense not to cancel travel plans until you must, even if you know you won’t travel. Read more here.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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12 Comments

    1. Furthermore, I care deeply about humanity and hate seeing the travel world go through this struggle. Real people with real lives are experiencing significant hardship both due to the virus and it’s knock on effects. If you look at any and all coverage we’ve put forth around the coronavirus, it’s been very “don’t” panic and don’t hide in your shell. I have planned travel to the USA, Asia and Europe and have no intention of cancelling. I will do my best to keep moving as it’s seemed appropriate and safe and hope others will too, as it fits their personal health concerns.

  1. Virgin Australia is an interesting one as it is largely a domestic airline with only limited exposure to Asia and North America. Whilst it has dramatically cut capacity, it should bounce back a lot quicker than other airlines. It does of cause have cash flow and earnings issues which this will certainly not help. Australia can’t afford to be a one airline country.

    1. How you paid, how you booked is generally the first line of defense. Travel agents would be able to re-route, refund, exchange etc whereas online booking may not. This is precisely why a stop sale occurs. Basically, IF you had booked with TA and or paid with a credit card, you’d be protected via chargeback, etc. EC261 doesn’t have as much use in bankruptcy court.

  2. Thank you Gilbert for your always informative posts,I love GSTP, always recommend to my friends and colleagues. I’m a global events manager and the information you give is priceless- both personally and professionally. Never more so in these unprecedented times. Bella

  3. Cathay Pacific is actually adding capacity back into the market as we speak, far from going “bust”. What’s your source?

      1. Ok, good to know Cathay Pacific doesn’t have a solvency issue. A world class carrier that will come back very strong.

  4. Read the article with interest. Can’t comment about the majority of the airlines listed, but can about a Vietnam Airlines, having recently experienced their lousy service—-Business class very average (for example, did not have ‘first choice’ food option!**) & their domestic flights in ‘Economy’, possibly the worst I’d experienced.
    Hanoi ground staff uncooperative, & their checking system dysfunctional, me not getting an acknowledgement email as I should have
    So if travel agents ditch Vietnam Airlines, their move could not come soon enough.
    A wonderful country, with generally lovely people, & certainly undeserving of their crap national carrier!

    **. OK, at these difficult time, what with Covid-19, a minor point, but perhaps indicative of that airlines’ lousy quality

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