Agents' group hails Atol changes and turns fire on Abta

Agents' group hails Atol changes and turns fire on Abta

The CAA decision to toughen financial criteria for small Atol-holders has drawn criticism from Abta but praise from the Travel Network Group (TNG) of agents.

Abta demanded a delay and fresh consultation last week and writing in this week’s Travel Weekly, Abta chairman Noel Josephides warns the CAA requirements could mean “more start-ups operate illegally”.

But TNG managing director Gary Lewis hailed the measures as going “a long way to fix the problem”.

TNG represents both Abta and non-Abta members and Lewis confessed: “I wanted the CAA to go further.”

Josephides argues the new rules fail to address “the real problem of inadequate policing” and writes in Travel Weekly: “Hundreds of UK-based operators simply ignore the regulations. Hundreds of organisations based abroad market in the UK but do not comply with UK regulations.”

Yet Lewis, writing for today’s Travel Weekly Business:am, accuses Abta of “playing loose and fast” with its interpretation of the rules.

He argues: “It [the CAA decision] goes a long to fixing the problem – the problem being a continual stream of poorly run businesses holding ‘fig leaf’ Atol licences, taking increasingly greater risks and, when they fail, costing the Air Travel Trust fund (ATTF).”

Lewis says: “We as an industry would get a lot more done if our biggest trade body and main regulator were just fixing the problems, not trying to appease all the agendas within our fractured industry.”

The CAA announced it would retain the Small Business Atol (SBA) for “genuine small businesses” last week, suggesting 85% of SBAs would be unaffected by new financial tests.

Travel Weekly revealed the CAA would retain the SBA at the start of the year.

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