An industry call has gone out today for further government action to introduce total financial protection for holidaymakers.
The suggestion comes from the Air Travel Insolvency Protection Advisory Committee (Atipac) which describes current UK travel protection arrangements as “outdated but not broken”.
The committee recommends a regulatory structure which includes:
- a single licensing regime across all leisure travel arrangements, under the auspices of a single government department: the Department for Transport;
- a simple, clear and transparent scheme of protection for consumers;
- a single point of contact for consumers of failed operators.
It says the licensing arrangements currently administered by the Civil Aviation Authority should provide the foundation for the future scheme, particularly as the regulator has proven expertise in organising the delivery of repatriation and refunds to consumers efficiently and collaboratively with the UK industry.
Atipac makes the proposals in response to a DfT call for evidence on a review of the European Package Travel Directive and Atol implementation and funding arrangements announced in May.
The committee describes the call for evidence as “a welcome staging post on the road to comprehensive insolvency protection for holiday travellers”.
Its response suggests that future administration could either be through the CAA with new powers, or by a new travel protection agency.
Chairman John Cox said: “Financial protection for holidaymakers and air travellers is a complex issue and Atipac has campaigned for some years for improvements to give greater fairness and clarity to consumers and the travel industry.
“The committee believes the government needs to ensure that any changes improve on the current financial protection arrangements and provide a simple and clear message on protection for all holidaymakers, regardless of their form of travel.
“There is evidence that a single regulatory scheme covering all holiday arrangements will bring a simple and more robust protection mechanism for consumers as well as reducing overall industry compliance costs whilst maintaining the current level of protection which consumers expect.”
The committee is urging the government to publish all responses as soon as possible, and set out a timetable for next steps so that both consumers and the industry can consider in more detail further changes to financial protection arrangements in the future.
“The need for continuing assessment and discussion is clear in view of European Commission’s long awaited proposals to change the Package Travel Directive, which were published while the call for evidence was out,” it added.
“These proposals are important and the committee will consider these in the light of its response to the DfT and expects to comment further to government on the European proposals later in the autumn."
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