The CAA and trustees of the Air Travel Trust (ATT) were considering extending Atol-protection of refund credit notes (RCNs) issued beyond September 30 as Travel Weekly went to press, amid fears of the impact of a renewed wave of refund claims.

A senior industry source told Travel Weekly: “Winter departures are upon us and nothing has changed.

“The CAA and the trustees have to make a call. If they don’t, the CAA is signalling that you should not issue refund credit notes [from October 1].

“That will add to the pressure on Atol-holders’ cashflow [and] people could be refunding customers who have just cancelled, while RCNs issued in the summer are still outstanding. That seems not a good outcome.”

It remains likely the September 30 deadline for issuing Atol-protected RCNs to customers happy to accept them in place of refunds will be extended.

If not, the industry source warned: “I’m not sure to what extent people will be able to comply.
“The CAA is conscious of the time, but the October 1 [deadline] is hardly a surprise and the crisis is continuing.

“The danger is it will cast doubt on what is protected and give an opportunity to those questioning that. Casting doubt on what is protected [earlier in the crisis] did the industry damage.”

Abta argued from April that RCNs linked to Atol bookings were protected under the existing Atol regulations and confirmed throughout that the association would protect non-flight package bookings.

But the Department for Transport, CAA and ATT trustees took until mid-July to confirm Atol‑protection of RCNs.

The CAA issued guidance at the time of that confirmation that Atol protection “will not apply” to RCNs issued after September 30.

The source suggested: “Abta is desperately keen to align with the CAA this time.” However, Abta is understood to have guidance ready to issue to members in the event the CAA makes no announcement.

The CAA declined to comment, but a source confirmed last week: “There is a discussion of the planned end date for RCNs.”