The CAA has issued a warning to travel companies to take real care when entering financial information into its systems to get their Atol licences renewed, claiming many are making mistakes and “slowing the process down”.

The authority circulated a reminder notice on Tuesday, urging companies to “submit accurate Atol applications before the deadline”.

A spokesman told Travel Weekly: “There have been some instances of companies providing incorrect financial information. Without this accurate information, there may well be a delay in the renewal process.”

He said there was a real chance some companies may not get their licences in time if they do not get their applications correct, and warned they would not be allowed to sell Atol-protected holidays without regulatory approval.

“If a new Atol is not granted before the current one expires the business will no longer hold an Atol and will be unable to transact business which is legally required to be covered under Atol,” the CAA’s notice said.

It continued: “This means businesses would have to:

  • Stop taking new licensable bookings.
  • Stop accepting payments for existing licensable bookings.
  • Instruct agents (if applicable) that they should not accept any new bookings or any payments.
  • Stop advertising licensable business and remove all references to Atol on your website/s and other publicity/promotional material.

“In addition, there would be a breach of the Atol Regulations if businesses continued to hold bookings for customers that have entered into licensable transactions. This means businesses would have to notify all customers due to travel after 30 September 2018 that they cannot provide their travel arrangements and provide a full refund of all monies paid,” the CAA’s notice outlined.

It also noted that in addition to those firms submitting incorrect financial information, there are more than 250 Atol-protected companies out of 1,200, which have not yet even submitted an application.

Head of travel and leisure at accountants White Hart Associates, Chris Photi, said he had encountered technical issues with the new portal, such as putting in overseas addresses.

“We’ve had a few crashes and it’s a lot of palava for new applicants which have to put in a lot more financial information for the first time they do it.
“I’d stop short of saying it’s not fit for purpose but say it’s not fit enough for purpose.”

However, he added: “It’s an investment for the future and the industry has to come to terms with the fact that it needs to be online.”

The authority said:  “Any company seeking assistance in renewing can contact the CAA’s Atol team: atolonline@caa.co.uk”.