The senior civil servant responsible for Atol reform today described the level of airline failure as “small” and declined to assure the trade that carriers would be brought into consumer protection.
Kate Jennings, head of aviation policy implementation at the Department for Transport (DfT), said: “I can’t give a guarantee airlines will be brought into the scheme. Ministers can’t give a guarantee.”
Referring to a Transport Bill likely to go before Parliament next year, she said: “It is not impossible Atol proposals will be in the Transport Bill – whether airlines are included directly or whether agent for the consumer transactions are included.”
Jennings was speaking during an Abta webinar debate on Atol reform.
Abta head of financial protection John de Vial told her: “We need an all-flights solution. We are disappointed the complete answer is not there [in the current proposals].
“It is important we get a commitment on an all-flights solution through primary legislation. That is a fundamental issue for our members.
Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer added: “The failure of airlines is part of the problem. Without the airlines, there is a risk people will be driven to make unprotected arrangements because these are cheaper.”
Jennings told the Abta leaders: “Ministers are very aware of the need for a level playing field, but they are equally clear that the level of airline failure is small. The government is not keen on regulatory action where regulation is not needed. Ministers are not ruling it out, but do need evidence to make the case.”
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