Abta has confirmed it is developing plans with the Civil Aviation Authority to help agent members comply with changes to consumer financial protection.
Full details remain under wraps, but the agreement with the CAA promises substantial savings for Abta members requiring an Atol licence for the first time.
The Department for Transport announced the final shape of Atol reform last week, with a key element the new Flight-Plus licence aimed at protecting sales of flights and accommodation or car hire sold separately but at the same time or within consecutive days.
The proposed agreement with the CAA would allow Abta to process members’ Flight-Plus Atol applications and hold a combined bond to meet the financial-protection requirements of both the association and the CAA.
This is aimed at addressing the issue of double bonding and Abta said the measures would help agents “comply with the Atol system more easily and cost effectively”.
In a statement, Abta said: “Details of the new scheme will be set out in due course.
"It will enable Abta travel agents who wish to sell Atol-protected holidays to acquire a licence directly through Abta and save them the additional costs and paperwork of applying individually.
“Abta will offer to take responsibility for processing Atol applications, enabling administrative cost savings to be passed on to members.”
This could lead to “a significant saving” on the £1,890 initial cost of a full Atol Licence or the £1,115 charge for a Small Business Atol.
The agreement with the CAA should also allow the association to hold a combined bond to cover Abta and Atol requirements, meaning members would not require a separate bond with the CAA.
Abta said: “Both retail bonding requirements and new Atol bonding requirements will be captured under a combined bond.”
Member companies with a licensable annual turnover of up to £1.5 million should be eligible for the scheme.
Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer said: “Feedback from our members is that they are concerned with the complexity and administrative requirements of the reforms, particularly during peak booking season.
“We are working with the CAA to produce a scheme that will enable members to obtain an Atol licence through their membership. This will be a real benefit, saving them a considerable administrative burden, duplication of work and extra expense.”
Members who qualify for the scheme and already hold an Atol will be able to join from the September 2012 or March 2013 Atol renewal, but not this March when a significant proportion of tour operators must renew their licences.
Separately, Abta is updating its code of conduct in line with the new requirements for tour operators to have written agency agreements in place with retailers by April 30.
Full details of Atol Reform can be found on the CAA website.
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