By Lee Hayhurst and Juliet Dennis
The government’s decision to repatriate all 110,000 of Monarch’s customers makes a “mockery” of the Atol system, according to trade bosses.
Industry anger over clients with no Atol protection being flown home for free has been compounded by the prospect of firms facing a £250 bill per person.
Customers boarding flights home are being handed a form requesting booking details as the government looks to reduce the burden of the £60 million repatriation on taxpayers.
These include just under 2,000 Thomas Cook customers in resort who were booked on Monarch flights on Atol-protected packages.
Chris Photi, senior partner at White Hart Associates, criticised the “unilateral” decision to repatriate everyone and then demand costs from Atol-holders.
“Agents and package operators will be presented with a bill for £250 a head, which is ridiculously expensive. The industry is astonished,” he said.
However, Alan Bowen, legal adviser to the Association of Atol Companies, said the government could struggle recouping costs as few will submit the forms.
“Once home customers will have no interest,” he said.
Monarch failed on the eve of the Tory party conference in Manchester.
Aito chairman Derek Moore said: “A cynic would say the government didn’t want the mass panic that would result if its own rules were enforced.
“Government has consistently rebuffed demands for a level playing field, and yet they bring everyone home. It makes a mockery of the whole system.”
Aito has reiterated previous calls on the government for a £1 levy on all outbound flights.
Advantage Travel Partnership managing director Julia Lo Bue-Said said: “The scheme suggests those not covered by Atol should be stranded. Therefore, it appears the scheme is not fit for purpose.”
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