The Department for Transport has announced several changes to its original proposals for the Flight-Plus reforms in light of responses from the industry.
Three changes relate to the Flight-Plus licence:
- The date of implementation: this will now be in two stages. The Flight-Plus Atol will come into force on April 30. The Atol Certificate issued to consumers will come in on October 1.
- Creation of a Flight Plus: this will now be triggered when a consumer “requests to book” a flight and associated holiday elements within two consecutive days, rather than simply ‘requests’ them - i.e. enquires about availability. There is no change to the timeframe within which a Flight-Plus can be created.
- A Flight-Plus holiday will not exist if a customer cancels any of the “key constituent elements” - the flight or accommodation.
All other aspects of Flight-Plus will remain as previously published. The DfT confirmed: “The regulations do not mean airlines will need an Atol licence for the sale of Flight Plus holidays.”
There are three further changes or clarifications to the reforms from April 30:
- A consortium or other body will be able to provide Atol cover collectively for members with the accreditation of the Civil Aviation Authority. These will no longer be referred to as Approved Bodies but Accredited Bodies.
- The changes will apply to micro-businesses - those with ten or fewer employees.
- The proposed exemption from Flight-Plus for ‘Right to Fly providers’ has been changed, however full details are unclear. The regulations previously proposed would have required agents selling flight-only tickets to have sales agreements in place with every airline they sell or to hold a Flight-Plus licence and charge an Atol Protection Contribution of £2.50. This has been replaced by a Right to Fly exemption “for appointed airline ticket agents”. It is unclear what this means. Abta said it was seeking clarification from the DfT.
There are also three changes or clarifications to plans for the new Atol Certificate:
- The start date, which has moved to October 1 “to ensure a uniform approach” - on the grounds that “a number of businesses are unlikely to be in a position to issue the Certificate accurately and reliably on April 30”. However, “The Atol Certificate must be provided from October 1.”
- The Atol Certificate must be provided to a consumer once the first payment for a Flight-Plus is made “regardless of whether this relates to the flight, accommodation or car hire”.
- Agents of Atol holders must supply the Atol Certificate to consumers but do not have to create it. This can be done by the Atol-holder and passed to the agent.
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