Comment: Atol debate should focus on the customer

Comment: Atol debate should focus on the customer

Surely there are just two major considerations when we are talking about Atol reform.

Firstly it is to protect the travelling public in all instances and secondly to make it clear and understandable what exactly they are protected from, whether it be ash clouds or delays, irrespective of how they book or what form of transport is used.
A level playing field for the public is what is required, not what suits the purveyors of travel or allows them to wriggle out of any liability. If it creates barriers to entry so be it, the public’s interest must be protected at all costs.
Either an insurance scheme or Atol fee should be introduced across the board for all. As was pointed out by Lowcost Travel Group chief executive Paul Evans last week, It is silly to have EasyJet Holidays paying the Atol Protection Contribution and Lowcost Holidays not.
I do believe that the option to move the business offshore to avoid paying UK tax must and should cease. 

If a firm earns profit from the UK taxpayer they should pay UK taxes unless it is a truly global business.  Why should Barclays Bank, Philip Green or their like avoid VAT and applicable tax on profits generated in the UK?
I fear the ongoing debate is centred around company profits or trying to gain an advantage at the consumers’ expense. And much of the rhetoric is pointless as the agenda is set, not on the principals of protection but rather on the problem of the depleted Air Travel Trust Fund. 

However, the coalition appears now to be going to consider a level playing field albeit at a later time – a new European directive is not scheduled to be in force until 2015 or later - so we must keep up the pressure.
The discussions should centre round protecting the consumer and creating a level playing field as suggested by Thomas Cook UK’s mainstream chief executive Ian Ailles, plus making the rules easily understandable.
The so-called big two seem genuine to me, as all views should be taken into account in a sensible debate to find the way forward.
I don’t think some comments made by others are at all helpful as they appear to be constructed solely in order to defend their own business interests.


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