Primera Air’s collapse on Monday highlights the extent of confusion and uncertainty over financial protection when an airline fails – a year after the Monarch collapse.

Leading industry figures said it emphasised the need for a “level playing field” so consumers are not left out of pocket when a carrier collapses, amid fears the failure could affect consumer confidence.

Alan Bowen, legal adviser to the Association of Atol Companies, said the failure “impresses on government the need to look at this” and may push more passengers to fly with “trusted airlines”.

The government ordered an independent review of airline insolvency after Monarch’s collapse.

The Airline Insolvency Review is due to publish its full recommendations by the end of the year.

An Abta spokesman said: “The Primera Air failure highlights the confusion and inconsistency that exists around airline insolvency protection in the UK. The government’s airline insolvency review is an ideal opportunity to bring much-needed clarity for consumers and a more level playing field for businesses selling flights.”

Stansted impounded four of Primera’s 15 aircraft on Monday.

The airline was due to operate 16 flights to North America from Stansted this week.

Agents were largely unaffected with most bookings Atol-protected.

Fred Olsen Travel, Midcounties Co-operative Travel and Premier Travel each reported a “handful” of affected bookings and rebooked customers immediately.

Alistair Rowland, Midcounties’ group general manager for specialist retail, who was booked to fly with Primera on Tuesday, said: “This will not help consumer confidence [but] will be good for us in the end because it will show the protection of booking through a trusted brand.”

Premier Travel director Paul Waters said the collapse was “not necessarily unexpected”. He added: “From a retail perspective, this plays into our hands.”

Other agents said Primera’s decision to pull out of Birmingham and cancel flights from September had set alarm bells ringing. Sutton Travel managing director Andy Tomlinson said: “We made a decision early on to stop selling [Primera].”

Primera, registered in Latvia and part of the Danish Primera Travel Group, began flying from Stansted and Birmingham to the US and Canada in April. It was due to star Manchester flights this month.

Primera failed to secure longterm financing and blamed aircraft delivery delays, stiff competition, fuel costs and a €10 million aircraft “corrosion issue” for its demise. No one from Primera Air was available for comment.


Stranded: If Only’s Dominic Carrick

If Only’s Dominic Carrick was one of tens of thousands of stranded Primera Air customers.

Carrick, head of sales south for the luxury operator, flew to Malaga to attend the Elite Travel Group conference and Midcounties Co-operative Travel’s retail conference.

He was due to return to Birmingham on Tuesday, the day after the airline’s collapse.

“When I flew out, I was told they could not take card payments on board, only exact cash – that set alarm bells ringing,” he said.

“I had no notification of the failure from Primera. Luckily I was surrounded by agents and operators and found out at about 6pm on Monday. By 6.30pm I’d booked a Tui flight home.”

More: Airlines offer to repatriate stranded Primera Air passengers