Association warns a no-deal Brexit would scupper arrangements. Ian Taylor reports
Atol-holders have generated “significant” turnover – more than £130 million – in other EU states since the new Package Travel Regulations (PTRs) were introduced 12 months ago, according to Abta.
But the association believes “a lot more” businesses could make use of cross‑border recognition of consumer‑protection schemes brought in by regulations, which came into force on July 1 last year, after Brexit.
John de Vial, Abta financial protection and financial services director, said: “More than 70 Abta members are protecting sales in other EU member states using UK arrangements. It’s very significant – over £130 million in turnover.”
But he suggested: “A lot more people will make use of the arrangements post‑Brexit.”
De Vial said the uncertainty around Brexit had discouraged some members from selling across the EU under Atol protection already, arguing: “A bunch would have made use of [the arrangements] but decided not to if it was going to be just for a year [in the event of a nodeal Brexit].”
Abta head of legal services Simon Bunce warned a no‑deal Brexit would end the arrangements.
He said: “The minute we’re out of the EU and become a third country [to EU members], the CAA has made clear the ability to use an Atol to protect turnover overseas ceases, so having contingencies in place is important. People need to stay focused on Brexit.”
Abta is also seeing members sell the new category of Linked Travel Arrangements (LTAs), which sit outside the Atol scheme – although it believes some smaller members may be doing so by mistake.
De Vial and Bunce believe there is also confusion about business travel sales.
Bunce said: “The way the 2018 regulations define a package means a lot more business travel falls within the definition than under the old regulations.
“A travel management company will be a [package] organiser unless it takes steps to exempt business travel through a ‘general agreement’ [with a corporate client].
“We’re surprised we’ve not seen more people asking how to do that. Neither we nor the CAA have seen as much activity to take business travel out of the regulations as we expected.”
De Vial said: “[Travel management] agreements are often three-yearly and there is a natural reluctance to change the cycle. [But] a significant number of smaller members don’t have general agreements in place [and] have insurance to protect their turnover.
“That is OK so long as they are aware where they stand.”
Abta had hoped the CAA would issue guidance on the wording of business travel ‘general agreements’, but none is in prospect. De Vial said: “Our understanding is the CAA has no immediate intention to release any wording.”
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