Few agents hold a Flight-Plus Atol, says Abta

Few agents hold a Flight-Plus Atol, says Abta

The first year of Flight-Plus saw most agents pass up the chance to hold their own Atol, according to Abta.

Just 35 agency members obtained an Atol for the first time through the Abta Atol Joint Administration Scheme with the CAA.

The scheme was set up weeks before introduction of the Flight Plus licence, which extended Atol financial protection to dynamic packages, at the end of April last year.

However, the savings offered by the scheme proved attractive to many existing Atol holders.

Abta head of financial protection John de Vial told Travel Weekly: "The Abta Atol Joint Administration Scheme worked extremely successfully for those who used it."

He revealed only 35 agents sought an Atol for the first time. However, de Vial added: "We had 150 existing Atol holders renew through Abta. A larger number of traditional tour operators came through."

The scheme is available to Abta members with a maximum Atol-protected turnover of £1.5 million a year.

De Vial said: "The objective was to give retailers drawn into Atol a lower-cost and lower-administration solution to getting an Atol.

"It reduced fees and potentially reduced bonding, and there is less administration because people deal only with Abta."

He said: "It's a really good scheme for those who decide to go down the Flight-Plus route. But the vast majority decided not to.

"The overwhelming majority [of agents] decided to continue to work with wholesalers.

"A majority have not gone for separate Atols - they could not justify the additional cost and compliance work.

"The vast majority said 'We'll keep doing this through players offering a packaging service. it's not worth getting our own Atol'."

He added: "The larger number the CAA quotes as using an Atol for the first time is valid. But the number who did not already have access to an Atol was relatively small."

De Vial said those obtaining an Atol for the first time amounted to "a small number of very large online travel agents and a small number of smaller retailers".

He said: "People who are part of consortia will be a doing a bit of Flight Plus and using a consortia Flight-Plus Atol."

De Vial added: "The situation could change, but I can't see it changing massively so long as there is a decent amount of supply available to retailers."


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