Abta has told members it has “serious doubts” about the feasibility of launching Flight-Plus licensing from April 30.
In a first public statement indicating that the Department for Transport deadline is now too tight to meet, Abta said: “UK travel businesses need time to prepare. We have serious doubts about the feasibility of an April 30 launch.”
Changes to the Atol consumer protection scheme from the end of next month will require many travel agents to hold licences for the first time. Yet the sector is still waiting for the DfT to publish the final regulations and still awaiting the Standard Terms issued by the Civil Aviation Authority.
In turn, this is holding back the release of details of Abta’s co-administration scheme with the CAA which will allow the association to process member companies’ applications for Flight-Plus Atols.
Abta has until now declined to comment on the delay to the process. But in its weekly Abtatoday bulletin to members, it says: “With just 30 days to go until the implementation date … The reality is that until the DfT publishes the Atol regulations, we won’t know for sure … what individual travel businesses must do to comply.
“In addition, we won’t be able to set out the detail of the new Abta-Atol Joint Administration Scheme until we’ve seen these regulations. Abta has made our position on this clear to the DfT and CAA. We have serious doubts about the feasibility of an April 30 launch.”
The Association of Atol Companies (AAC) went further. AAC legal advisor Allan Bowen said: “It is a disaster. A lot of agents are not going to have Atols from April 30. No one has got any agency agreements. Consumers will not have protection.”
Speaking at a Vantage Insurance seminar on the reforms yesterday, Bowen said: “It is a potential nightmare. We can’t have regulations coming out tomorrow that will be in force by April 30.”
However, CAA consumer protection group deputy director David Moesli said: “Agents have known about this for some time. They have had a lot of time to prepare.”
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