The Labour Party has accused the government of ‘over-spinning’ the protection holidaymakers can expect this summer thanks to Atol reform and the introduction of Flight-Plus.
Shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle spoke out following a Travel Weekly report of research suggesting only a third to one half as many holidays will be protected as the six million the Department for Transport claimed when announcing changes to the Atol protection scheme last week.
Eagle said: “Ministers must explain why they over-spun the immediate impact of these reforms to licensing for tour operators and travel organisers. They have given false reassurance to those booking holidays for this summer.”
The research by TNS for Travel Weekly suggested only between 1.8 million and 2.9 million additional holidays will be protected by the new Flight-Plus licence.
Transport minister Theresa Villiers said last week that “up to an additional six million holidays a year will be fully Atol protected” as a result of bringing Flight-Plus holidays sold by tour operators and travel agents into the Atol scheme.
Eagle said: “Families booking a summer getaway will want to know why the increased holiday protection promised by the government will still leave many without the coverage needed in case of firms going bust.
“Ministers must give urgent assurances that holidaymakers do not face being stranded or losing money if their travel plans are ruined by tour operators and travel organisers going bust, especially in the current economic climate.”
She added: “Ministers must ensure that comprehensive reform to holiday protection will be brought in as quickly as possible.”
The government has included powers to widen protection in the Civil Aviation Bill now before Parliament. However, it is not likely to extend the Atol scheme to the currently unprotected sales of holidays by airlines until next year at the earliest.
The statement by Eagle appears on the Labour Party website under the headline “Ministers have over-spun protection holiday makers will get from government this summer if holiday firms go bust”.
Full details of the Atol reform from the CAA can be found on a dedicated page on the regulator’s website.
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