Minister to decide on further Atol reform ‘by autumn’

Minister to decide on further Atol reform ‘by autumn’

Transport minister Theresa Villiers has pledged to decide by the autumn whether to proceed with primary legislation to make further changes to the air travel organisers’ licensing (Atol) scheme.

Announcing details of the proposed Flight Plus Atol for retailers to be introduced from January, Villiers said today: “This is an important first step. These reforms will address a major area of uncertainty for consumers buying holidays from tour operators and travel agents.

“There are many holidays available which look like packages but do not fall under the legal definition and so are not protected under the ATOL scheme.

“The reforms pave the way for further potential change to the Atol scheme in the medium to longer term. Once the scheme’s deficit has been paid off, there is an opportunity to consider how funding repatriations and refunds might best be arranged.”

In a written statement launching a 12-week consultation on the initial changes, Villiers said: “The consultation also asks stakeholders about bringing holiday sales by airlines and those arranged on an ‘agent for the consumer’ basis into the scheme.  These would require new primary legislation. The Bill to reform airport economic regulation could provide a vehicle to make the necessary changes if Government decides to go ahead with these further reforms. 

“Decisions on reforms needing new primary legislation are planned for the autumn and may also need to take account of work underway by the European Commission on the future of the Package Travel Directive.”

The consultation closes on September 15 and Villiers said: “My aim is to announce decisions in the autumn on the way forward on the reforms dependent on new secondary legislation.” 

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