The Department for Transport has confirmed it intends to publish the final version of the Flight-Plus Atol Regulations this week, in line with its April 30 start date for the new licensing regime.
A DfT spokeswoman said: “We expect to lay the regulations [before the House of Commons] by the end of the week. We fully expect to hit the deadlines.”
Government changes to regulations, also known as secondary legislation, must be “laid” before the House of Commons in advance of becoming law and be available in the Journal Office of the Commons or the Commons library. However, the length of time regulations must appear in advance can vary.
The spokeswoman confirmed a 21-day deadline applied in this case and not the standard 28 days as reported by Travel Weekly yesterday. She said: “The regulations will be laid later this week.”
The Civil Aviation Authority will publish revised Standard Terms for Atol holders once the regulations appear, including the wording of clauses to be included in agency agreements.
Abta and the CAA will also publish details of their co-administered scheme that will allow Abta to process Flight-Plus license applications from most agents.
Speaking at a Vantage Insurance seminar on Atol last Thursday, CAA consumer protection group deputy director David Moesli said: “If the regulations are issued this week, we could go a pretty long way by April 30. The critical thing is working out the level of business that needs to be protected.”
However, Moesli acknowledged the deadline was tight, saying: “The DfT does need to issue the regulations quickly. A lot of agents will be affected and they do have decisions to take.”
But Moesli said: “The trade has known this was coming for a long time. We have been talking to agents and Atol-holders, explaining what it means.”
He acknowledged the reforms would not simplify matters for agents, but said that was not the point: “This is designed to improve the lot of consumers,” said Moesli. “It would be wrong to say it simplifies matters for you. It is to simplify the message to consumers.”
Responding to concerns about the agency agreements with suppliers agents must have in place, Moesli said: “Agency agreements are important. They will mean people know where they stand.
“If there is any doubt, the agreements will establish a business acts as an agent. But the DfT has indicated we are unlikely to be actively checking agreements at least in the first month.”
He added: “There will undoubtedly be people who need to get on [with agreements]. But people don’t need to issue entirely new agreements. They could just issue an addendum to an existing agreement with the CAA terms.”
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