Thomas Cook is seeking tougher enforcement of Atol rules, with director of government and external affairs Andy Cooper demanding a clamp down by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
Speaking at an Abta law seminar on proposals to extend consumer protection yesterday, Cooper said: “We would like to see the CAA clamp down on those who need clamping down on.”
He also argued it was time retailers took responsibility for replacing holidays if a company fails. Cooper said: “Sellers should be responsible for what they sell and responsible for replacing product if a supplier fails.”
However, he labelled the current Department for Transport proposals for Atol reform “a fudge” and only “a partial solution” because the airlines would remain outside, and said: “There are still areas of concern. There are opportunities for avoidance.”
Cooper described the option for retailers to act as an agent for the consumer as “a problem”, and said: “We do not want means of avoidance. We like the principle of anti-avoidance measures. We would like there to be strong and effective measures.”
He said the failure to include click-through sales – where a purchaser books a flight on an airline site and then clicks a link to an accommodation provider – “smacks of cowardice”. “The problem has been obvious for years,” said Cooper.
He also expressed disappointment that there would be no change in the regulations on seat-only sales – which will continue to be covered by Atol regulations when bought from a tour operator, but not when bought direct from an airline.
Cooper said: “It’s absurd. If you book a Monarch Airlines flight on the Monarch site, the booking will not be protected. If you book the flight on the Avro site – same flight, same company – it will be.”
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