Half of Atol renewals still due as April deadline looms

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has appealed to Atol holders needing licences renewed by April 1 to submit applications urgently, with almost half of those due to renew yet to submit applications.

CAA head of Atol Michael Budge urged: “Please get applications in. We have about 660 renewals in March and 50% are still yet to apply. We’re less than one month away, and we’ll lose Easter [March 29-31].”

Speaking at an Abta Travel Finance Conference in London last week, Budge revealed: “About 301 Atol renewals have been granted, but 315 companies are still to apply. I would encourage people to put applications in quickly.

“If you’re worried, ring us and let’s have the discussion because we don’t want to have it on the last day of the month.”

Budge insisted “there is no change in approach, no change in conditions” and suggested some renewals could be simpler than in the past, noting: “Businesses increasingly have a better handle on their financial position – on their customer payments and pre-payments.”

He told Travel Weekly: “The financial conditions might be difficult but it’s better to have a conversation early. We want businesses to come to us as soon as they can. Engagement is important on Atol renewal. It becomes hard to manage [without it].”

Budge noted the renewals work on the basis of “last in, last out” and said: “People submit last-minute renewal applications because they’re worried. But being early gives us time to work with them and do something about it. “

Companies which fail to submit renewals in time can temporarily ‘lose’ their Atol, even if it’s subsequently renewed, meaning they can’t sell Atol-protected holidays for a period without breaching the regulations.

Budge told the conference there is “renewed momentum” to the CAA’s proposed Atol reforms although he “would not be drawn on when we’ll issue something”.

Abta director of legal affairs Simon Bunce told him: “We’re still not entirely sure what the problem is they [the CAA] are trying to fix. It’s imposing a level of change that seems entirely over the top.”

Bunce noted: “There was a specific problem with Thomas Cook. Absent of that, the Atol scheme works well. We don’t get a significant number of failures. I would hope a more measured approach was taken.”

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