The Civil Aviation Authority has written to tour operators and other Atol licence-holders warning them to prepare for changes to the way they sell holidays following the government’s decision to reform consumer financial protection.
The Department for Transport announced last week that reform to the Atol scheme will proceed, and a new Flight-Plus licence come into force, from April 30.
The CAA has asked Atol-holders to ensure they include Flight-Plus sales - of a flight plus accommodation or car hire overseas - in applications to renew or vary licences. It is particularly concerned that companies due to renew licences in March act quickly.
Until now, the Atol scheme has covered package holidays and seat-only sales through third parties, but left 'do-it-yourself' holidays unprotected even when booked through a single travel company. The Flight-Plus reforms will change that.
The CAA is also keen to assess reaction to the new Airline Ticket Agent exemption to the regulations, announced by the DfT, which will replace the current Ticket Provider exemption.
CAA head of Atol licensing Andy Cohen said: “It's important for us to provide information to all those in the travel industry affected by these changes. Over the coming weeks we will be providing more information both to Atol holders and unlicensed firms.”
He added: “Travel organisers should act now to make sure they are ready for April 30 and have the right licence authorisation. We have written to all Atol holders asking them to consider how their business will be affected and let them know our door is open to discuss the changes.
“This is particularly important for travel organisers whose licences are due to be renewed in March, as they will need to ensure their Atol covers the holidays they plan to sell from April 30 onwards. Those due to renew in September should also look at varying their authorisation.”
The CAA has also advised travel companies to prepare for the introduction of Atol Certificates from October 1. These will set how holidays are protected for consumers.
The letters form part of the CAA's biggest-ever industry education and awareness campaign. CAA officials are due to appear at more than 50 industry events in the run up to April 30, including a series of CAA open days where travel organisers can receive one-to-one support from the licensing team.
A simple guide to the changes will also be available soon, as will templates and guidance on how to use the new Atol certificate.
Details of the CAA’s open days and guidance for the industry is available from the CAA’s Atol reform web area .
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