The travel industry has a month to give its feedback on proposed changes to the Atol protection scheme and the law that underpins it.
The Civil Aviation Authority and the Department for Transport have today separately launched final consultations as the July 1 deadline for implementing the new EU Package Travel Directive looms.
The CAA has asked for industry feedback on new Atol Standard Terms which licensed firms must adhere to as a condition of holding an Atol.
It’s ‘Modernising Atol’ consultation sets out exemptions from Atol regulations, a schedule of agency and accredited body terms and an explanation of new standard terms.
It also includes a proposal to introduce online Atol certificates which has been tested with 270 Atol holders who were due to renew their licenses at the end of March 2018.
This will change the way Atol certificates are issued so that the CAA is the body that issues them, not the Atol holder.
The CAA says this will provide consumers with more certainty that the holiday sold is Atol protected and give the regulator better data on where consumers are and how to contact them.
The CAA said: “The UK Civil Aviation Authority’s consultation proposes changes to the Atol Standard Terms, which are essentially the rules Atol holders must follow as a condition of holding an Atol.
“Some of the proposed changes flow directly from the PTD, others help achieve its objective of enhancing transparency and increasing legal certainty for consumers and the travel industry.
“Our consultation proposes some changes to the reporting requirements and the information we require from Atol holders.
“These should enable us to react to problems – such as overtrading – sooner for the overall benefit of consumers and the Atol scheme.
“We have included our proposals on transitional arrangements to help Atol holders adapt to some of the changes.
“We are also proposing some changes to Atol exemptions and the scope of Atol Flight-Only protection so that we only regulate where we believe consumers face unacceptable risks.
“Looking further ahead, we are also seeking your views on the DfT’s intention to grant the CAA civil sanction powers to enhance our ability to tackle more routine compliance issues.
“We are also proposing to issue Atol Certificates to consumers from the data the industry provides us.
“This will enhance our ability to manage the Atol scheme and enable consumers to check their Atol entitlement independently.”
The industry has been asked to read the CAA consultation alongside a separate ‘Updating consumer protection in the package travel sector’ consultation issued by the DfT. This also ends on March 23.
It recommends that a new concept of flight-inclusive Linked Travel Arrangements (LTAs), or click through online sales, be regulated in the same was as non-flight LTAs via “bonding, insurance, trusts or for the flight element through selling an Atol-protected seat”.
The consultation states that the CAA has “strong concerns” about bringing flight-LTAs into the Atol scheme due to the potential for “consumer detriment” and damage to the Atol scheme.
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