'Seize chance for Atol reform' urges CAA

'Seize chance for Atol reform' urges CAA

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has called on the industry to seize the chance to shape a new consumer financial-protection scheme offered by a government call for evidence on funding reform.

CAA consumer protection group deputy director David Moesli said: "We want the industry to think long and hard about this. You are the guys who have to make the system work."

The changes will coincide with reform of the Package Travel Directive and together make a lasting impact, leading Moesli to insist: "The new Abta chairman will have a major role to play."

The Department for Transport (DfT) launched a 12-week 'call for evidence' on reform of Atol funding, a kind of pre-consultation consultation, last week.

Speaking in Abu Dhabi ahead of the start of the ITT Conference, Moesli said: "There are probably more different business models in the industry than ever before.

"The challenge is to find a model that protects the consumer, is simple for the industry and creates as level a playing field as the industry requires. We don't want to set in aspic the industry model we have today and we don't want artificial barriers to entry.

"We want new entrants to the industry, with new business models, and we certainly don't want the scheme to come out at a ridiculous price. That is the challenge."

Consultees who delay their contributions until the last four weeks of the process should have the opportunity to study proposals for reform of the Package Travel Directive (PTD) before making a submission.

The European Commission is expected to publish draft reforms in mid-July, a month before the call for evidence ends on August 15.

Moesli said: "We believe Brussels is anxious to get on with this now. They are concerned that the consumer has clarity, are aware the old regime needs updating, and want to get on before elections to the European Parliament [in May 2014]."

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) will follow up with a consultation on package travel reform in the autumn.

Abta members are poised to begin the election process for a new chairman this week, with ballot forms to go out on Thursday offering a choice between All Leisure Group chairman Roger Allard and Sunvil managing director Noel Josephides.

Moesli said: "The new chairman will come in at an interesting time and needs to be someone who tries to bring the industry together.

"It is a big job, with the call for evidence and the Package Travel Directive. This will have a big impact on the industry over 10-15 years. It's important the industry comes together."

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