Abta-CAA to unveil joint Atol arrangement next week

Abta-CAA to unveil joint Atol arrangement next week

Details of the joint Flight-Plus Atol arrangements between Abta and the Civil Aviation Authority should be announced next week.

The co-administered arrangement has been under discussion for weeks and would allow Abta to process members’ Flight-Plus Atol applications and hold a combined bond to provide financial guarantees to the CAA and Abta, cutting the costs of compliance for companies requiring their first Atol licence.

However, the April 30 start date for Flight-Plus is just five weeks away.

Referring to the delay in launching the joint scheme two weeks ago, Abta head of financial protection John de Vial said: “There is a bit of work to do on it yet. [But] we can’t afford it to be more than the next two weeks.”

An Abta spokesman said: “We are on track to be able to make an announcement on the detail of the Atol co-administration agreement by the end of the month, following the closure of the CAA’s consultation on standard terms on March 22. We invite Abta members to register their interest [in the scheme] with their financial liaison officer.”

Abta submitted its formal response to the CAA consultation yesterday, calling for a delay to the requirement for Agency Agreements to be in place. It suggested the deadline be moved from April 30 to October 1, the same date as the introduction of Atol Certificates.

The association also called for clarification on the obligations of Flight-Plus arrangers in the event of a supplier failure, and for a review of the definition of Atol exemptions for Airline Ticket Agents amid concern the current exemptions will compel most agents to provide Atol protection for seat-only sales of no-frills carriers.

Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer said: "A number of outstanding issues still need to be addressed. It is essential these are addressed swiftly and that common sense is applied to practical aspects of the reforms, including the timetable for having Agency Agreements in place."

Speaking during an Abta web discussion of the Atol changes on March 8, CAA consumer protection group deputy director David Moesli said: "There could be a bit of flexibility [on the implementation date for Agency Agreements], but not a great deal."

Referring to the joint Abta-CAA scheme during the same discussion, de Vial said: “Members will be able to apply for an Atol through Abta. We hope it will help people get everything in place by April 30."

Companies with licensable turnover of up to £1.5 million a year will be eligible for the scheme, meaning all but the biggest high street and online retailers.

Full details of Atol reform at www.atol.org.uk/reform

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