The Civil Aviation Authority has admitted it will be difficult to police the new Atol Certificate scheme until a centralised system is implemented in around two years’ time.
Aito Specialist Travel Agents got their first glimpse of the Atol Certificate they will have to give customers from April at this year’s domestic conference.
But CAA head of licencing Andy Cohen conceded there would be no way of stopping fraudulent agents issuing bogus certificates until the system is controlled centrally in the same way other government divisions operate such as the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).
“We cannot stop fraud and yes, there is a possibility customers could be misled about their protection. This is the first stage and the second stage will be to have all certificates centrally linked,” he said.
Separate Atol certificates will be required for standard package holiday bookings and flight-plus bookings.
Atol certificates for standard package holiday bookings have been simplified, according to Noel Josephides, Aito director with responsibility for industry affairs. They now require the lead name in the booking, number of passengers, destination, departure and arrival airports. Agents selling just packages “had nothing to worry about”, he said.
Atols for flight-plus bookings would require more detail, and according to Josephides: “Any agents doing dynamic packages need to think seriously about whether they want to continue selling them.”
Agents were also briefed on the need to have agency agreements in place with suppliers by April, detailing how pipeline monies are being held and Atol certificates.
Josephides, managing director of Sunvil Holidays, reassured agents operators were putting these in place. He said: “Initially the CAA wanted signed copies of the agreements but now it has been agreed we can send these out to agents and they do not need to sign them. When the make a booking they will be deemed to have accepted it.”
He added: “We are waiting to hear what has to be included in the agreements from the CAA, and should have this in the next four weeks. We are not unhappy about it as it will standardise the relationship with agents.”
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