The month’s ‘grace’ for businesses to comply with the new Flight-Plus Atol regulations ends today with Abta calling on the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) for greater clarity and the CAA admitting “it’s worrying there may be people who think they can avoid this”.
The CAA will issue details of the extent of Flight-Plus compliance later this month and remains unapologetic about ending the transition period.
Consumer protection group deputy director David Moesli told Travel Weekly: “It is important the pressure is kept on business to move in the right direction. There is a tendency to think ‘let’s deal with this in the autumn when there is more time’.”
He said: “Most people have a good understanding [of the reforms]. But it is slightly worrying that there may still be people who think they can avoid this. They need to understand the government attitude is to protect consumers.”
Leading industry lawyer Peter Stewart of Field Fisher Waterhouse told an Abta law seminar this week that retailers “don’t need to comply” with the Flight-Plus regulations which form part of the reforms. Stewart also outlined how companies could avoid compliance by relocating abroad.
Moesli confirmed the CAA would publish details of the level of compliance “when we have crunched the numbers”.
He said: “Many businesses are fully compliant. The most significant businesses are making real efforts, some smaller companies are getting sorted and some people do not need to do anything. But there will be gaps.”
Abta is seeking clarity both on the Air Travel Trust’s payment policy in the event of failures, and on the obligations of agents and Atol holders to have agency agreements in place.
The requirement for agreements between suppliers and agents forms a central plank of the reforms.
Abta warned: “The reforms are not just about Flight-Plus. Correctly worded agency agreements, booking terms and Atol documentation are now legal requirements.”
Moesli said evidence of agency agreements would extend beyond paper agreements between agents and suppliers. He said: “A lot of agents go on to [supplier] systems that are designed for them and the process [of booking] will make the relationship clear.
“Where a booking is made by phone and there is no evidence of the process, it will be more difficult. Then agents may want to get confirmation they are acting as an agent.”
In a note to members, Abta said: “It is essential you get licensing arrangements and agency agreements in place if you have not already done so.
“If you do not have them in place, make sure you have taken the necessary steps to show the process is in hand, with supporting evidence, to protect you if an Atol holder fails.”
“Make sure you have updated your booking conditions and checked your customer receipts are correct ahead of the Atol Certificate introduction on October 1.
Those needing help should go to www.abta.com/atol/reform or www.atol.org.uk/reform
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