By Roger Allard, All Leisure Group chairman and prospective candidate for Abta chairman
I read with interest Noel Josephides’ article in Travel Weekly (June 6) in relation to the Abta chairman election, for which we are both candidates and his comment that he doesn't want to promise something he may not be able to deliver.
The following week in the trade press Noel talked about providing more insurance or bonding and while he says he wants less red tape what he is suggesting is actually the opposite - more red tape.
We need to reduce costs and red tape for all members and especially retail agents.
We need to reduce the financial burden levied on our businesses by credit card providers and we can do this by reducing their risk and letting the Air Travel Trust take on the responsibility.
ATIPAC acknowledges that 43% of all Atol protected passengers are either double or triple protected and we are paying for it while airlines are not providing protection at all.
In my opinion the reason why we are being asked to submit our views in the Department for Transport ‘Call for Evidence’ is that 18 months ago government feared that if one of our large tour operators failed in the summer it would cost the ATT a billion pounds.
The DfT does not want to have this burden and while clearly stating it does not want the financial risk on the taxpayer at the same time it does not want to cover scheduled carriers. This is illogical and unfair.
When XL Leisure Group failed in 2008 a number of passengers were repatriated who were not bonded, and the government paid the ATT £2 million.
When Cancun was struck by a hurricane, the government chartered aircraft to fly Brits to Dallas.
During the ash cloud the government chartered a fleet of coaches and the navy to bring unbonded holidaymakers back from Spain. All this was done at the British taxpayers expense.
To move our industry forward we have to find a formula to cover passengers on scheduled airlines.
From discussions I have had the consensus is that everyone wants repatriation, therefore why not take a small percentage of the Atol Protection Charge (APC) - currently £2.50 - and charge airlines similarly to cover all passengers, whether they are on a package or not.
It is simple - either bring APC into the 21st century and plan for the future or leave it in the dark ages.
It would be wrong to expect the travel industry, excluding airlines, to finance consumer protection without including the entire picture.
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