The Civil Aviation Authority is considering extending its offer of cut-price Flight-Plus Atol payments following anger at the deal offered to online travel agents (OTAs) and other retailers.
Travel Weekly revealed last week the CAA is offering 50% off the £2.50 Atol payment on protected bookings with scheduled airlines to retailers acting as agents for the consumer. These bookings would otherwise escape Flight-Plus.
The plan for a £1.25 credit on bookings up to September 2013 was denounced by Alan Bowen, legal advisor to the Association of Atol Companies, who said: “It puts agents who have complied at a huge disadvantage.”
Bowen said: “The CAA recognises there is an issue. It needs to avoid being seen to give preferential treatment. It is looking at ways to extend this to others who have been dragged into Flight-Plus.”
An Abta spokeswoman said: “Abta is in talks with the CAA to see how the scheme will operate, to find out its scope and who could benefit.”
The CAA declined to comment. Abta chairman John McEwan said: “I can understand the CAA wants to get the big online players on board, but not at the expense of other industry members.” Bowen conceded the offer was pragmatic, given legal action to close the agent-for-the-consumer loophole would take longer than changing the law.
A source said: “If people are genuinely doing business as agent for the consumer, the offer could be available. If people are thinking of changing their business, they would get short shrift.”
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