A DUNFERMLINE charity faces losing more than £8,000 after being told they don't qualify for an airline coronavirus voucher scheme.

Carnegie Dojo Karate Club, based in Pilmuir Street, made three bookings, for a total of 18 people, with British Airways in January to take some of its students, and family members, to the JKA (Japan Karate Association) Karate World Championship in October.

Fundraising by members of the Dojo in recent years had enabled them, and family members, to make the trip but, due to the current pandemic, the event has been postponed and scheduled to take place in October 2021.

As part of their response to COVID-19, BA are offering passengers the opportunity to claim travel vouchers to allow them to rebook for a future date – but have told the charity they are not entitled to them.

On the airline's website, they state that, if any passenger is due to travel between now and July 31 – to which date the voucher option currently runs – they can apply for one, which is valid until April 2022.

In addition, those who are scheduled to fly on any date up until December 31 this year can also take advantage – but only if they booked between March 3 and May 31, with the former date being what British Airways said was the start of 'Booking with Confidence'.

That leaves the Dojo, which was awarded charity status in 2008, potentially being left severely out of pocket, and the likelihood of being unable to afford to travel to the rearranged competition.

Instructor Gordon Williamson said that, even if some of his students weren't selected to compete, they were eager to spectate and enjoy a "proper trip of a lifetime".

Gordon, who feels the March 3 starting date for applying for travel vouchers for flights booked for the remainder of the year has been "pulled out of the air" by the airline, explained: "British Airways had a sale on in January, and it was roughly £650 a head.

"We made three separate bookings – one for six, one for eight and one for four – on different credit cards as our limit wasn't high enough to do them on one. The bookings for eight and six were done at exactly the same time, and the one for four was done around 12 days later.

"When the World Championships were going to be cancelled, the first thing we did was get in touch with British Airways, and asked what we should do. They said that the event was nothing to do with them, that they only supply the flights and, as it stands, the flights are still going ahead.

"We got knocked back, the group of eight got knocked back, but the group of four were given vouchers – but that was a mistake according to BA."

Gordon, who has contacted Dunfermline and West Fife MP Douglas Chapman, continued: "Despite repeated attempts to appeal to British Airways to issue us with vouchers, they have refused, stating they must protect their own business, and only those who booked knowing there was a pandemic are entitled.

"We've had a big response on social media, and someone said they booked flights in December and got offered vouchers or a refund, which immediately goes against BA policy!

"We'll be out of pocket by around £8,100. We have no income at the moment; everything's shut and all fundraising is off.

"The other issue is that, if we have to lose that money, we don't have money sitting to go again next year. These kids could potentially lose out.

"It's a huge amount of money to lose that we can't afford. It seems like we're being penalised for doing the sensible thing and booking early."

After being contacted by the Press, British Airways confirmed that, as their travel voucher scheme runs only until July 31 – after which they anticipate running an increased schedule – Carnegie Dojo are not entitled to claim for travel vouchers.

When asked if they would continue to review how long the voucher scheme would run for – taking into account Government advice on travel, and if there is a second wave of the virus in future – they did not provide an answer.

They said: "We're sorry to hear that the competition won't be going ahead, and wish the team all the best."