The long-running saga of the leading OTA’s business practices may have been laid to rest, but White Hart Associates’ Chris Photi sees another looming
Much commentary has been written about the CAA’s implementation of the Flight-Plus extension to the Atol scheme.
Its fairness has been questioned, with the continuing absence of airlines, as has its true rationale – extended consumer protection or merely an expedient way to fill the Air Travel Trust Fund deficit?
However, it does appear that the travel industry has finally embraced it and the CAA is rightly satisfied that, despite many hurdles and delays, its implementation appears to be virtually complete.
Given the news that the market-leading OTA Travel Republic has been granted an Atol, by my reckoning all of the major OTAs now have full Atol cover encompassing Flight-Plus.
Even though I believe the Atol scheme and the Atol Protection Contribution (APC) still remain seriously flawed and unfair, Richard Jackson and his team at the CAA’s Consumer Protection Group deserve credit for the pragmatic and practical soft approach to the implementation of Flight-Plus
This is true particularly with reference to the arrangements put in place with OTAs to rebate 50% of the £2.50 per person APC on Flight-Plus bookings sold by them as agent for the consumer prior to such arrangements being brought into the scheme in 2013/14.
Much hysteria has been written about this arrangement by so-called industry commentators without a full understanding and careful consideration of the sense and rationale behind these arrangements.
I also believe these commentators used this as a platform to get across their relentless and nonsensical ‘good guys versus bad guys’ view of inclusive tour operators against OTAs.
Companies like Travel Republic have been satisfying consumer demand for transparently and reasonably-priced holidays for many years.
Traditional tour operators and their representatives have been crying foul for too long now when in actual fact nothing of which they have complained about has occurred.
Travel Republic has never broken the law and it is sad that this had to be proved beyond doubt by a costly and public court case.
Hopefully the consumer protection now being offered under Flight-Plus will silence these critics once and for all.
Against this back drop both the CAA and Travel Republic deserve credit for burying the hatchet and setting former differences aside.
We now await the Civil Aviation Bill and the tidying up of agent for the consumer and hopefully the extension of Flight-Plus to encompass airlines.
The former is a certainty but wait for the backlash in relation to the latter from the airlines. One saga may have been laid to rest but is another about to unfold?
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