Consumers who make seat-only bookings on charter carriers may no longer be refunded in the event of a company failure under Atol-reform proposals announced today, although passengers would still be repatriated.
The Department for Transport (DfT) consultation on creating a new Flight-Plus Atol for retailers notes a proposed change in payment policy by trustees of the Air Travel Trust (ATT) which pays out to consumers when an Atol-holder fails.
The trustees are considering the change alongside extension of the Atol regulations to agents in a move the DfT suggests would “help achieve improved clarity, as the distinction between an Atol-protected holiday and other holiday arrangements would be clearer”.
The DfT acknowledges the change would result in reduced Atol protection for some consumers, but says “the impact will be limited”.
The Civil Aviation Authority believes most flight-only sales on charter carriers will be matched with accommodation and therefore covered by the new Flight-Plus Atol.
Seat-only sales on scheduled airlines will continue to fall entirely outside the regulations.
Allied to this, the reform would replace the current “ticket provider” exemption from the Atol regulations and replace it with a “right to fly provider” for flight-only purchasers.
The DfT believes this would “address the problem where some airlines have refused to accept tickets issued by travel agents when the agent has subsequently failed”.
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