The Department for Transport must publish the Flight-Plus Atol regulations this week or risk missing its own April 30 deadline for reform of the consumer protection scheme.
Government changes to regulations, known as secondary legislation, are required to sit in the Journal Office of the House of Commons or the House of Commons library for a period before becoming law. This varies from 21 to 28 days or longer, making this week the last opportunity for publication if the DfT is to have the reforms in place for the planned start of Flight-Plus at the end of this month.
The changes will require many travel agents and online retailers to obtain Atol licences for the first time. Final details of the reformed Atol scheme will be published once the final regulations are available.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) will publish revised Standard Terms for Atol holders, including the wording of clauses that must be included in the agency agreements all retailers are to have in place with suppliers from now on.
And Abta will publish details of its co-administration scheme with the CAA which will allow the association to process licence applications for most members.
The failure to provide final details of the Flight-Plus scheme has left hundreds of businesses in limbo.
Abta went public over its frustration at the delay last week and warned the deadline was now barely possible, saying: “We have serious doubts about the feasibility of an April 30 launch.”
CAA consumer protection group deputy director David Moesli acknowledged time is tight, but said: “We understand from the Department for Transport the timetable is still realistic. There is a lot going on beneath the surface.”
He confirmed: “The standard terms will be out shortly after the regulations.” Moesli added: “The trade has known this was coming for a long time.” However, he acknowledged: “The DfT needs to issue [the regulations] soon.”
The delay at the DfT is understood to have been caused by lawyers examining the proposed regulations.
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