Travel firms ‘still have time’ to give views on Atol reform

Travel firms have been told there is still time to give their views on the Civil Aviation Authority’s Atol reform plans despite a plea by Aito for “urgency”.

Speaking at a panel debate at The Specialist Travel Association (Aito) AGM in London, the CAA’s head of Atol Michael Budge said there had been 300 responses to its first consultation and a further 300 responses to last year’s Request for Further Information.

Budge said industry feedback to date had been “incredibly helpful” but noted: “You don’t end up with a single perspective when you ask such a broad church of businesses. You get varied and wide ranging responses and a polarisation of views.”

The CAA cited the industry’s complexity and size in January when it announced a delay to Atol reform.

Budge told Aito members at its AGM in London that there had been a sense that travel businesses felt the reform plans were a “fait accompli”.

But he stressed: “That’s not the case. We would like more responses; there are a still a lot of businesses that did not respond.”

He added: “We obviously have not put out a final set of proposals; we are still working heavily on the final set of measures. There are a lot of engaging discussions with the Department for Transport.

“We are really conscious of making sure the proposals are fit for the future and fit for the industry. We very much want to make sure there is the opportunity for competition and choice and innovation. We want to make sure the reform delivers a thriving industry.”

Aito deputy chairman Martin Garland, director of Expressions Holidays, said the association enjoyed a “good relationship” and “great dialogue” with the CAA but said he remained frustrated at the speed of both Atol reform by the CAA and DfT and the separate review of the Package Travel Regulations (PTRs) by the Department for Business and Trade.

“We have two really big reviews underway at the moment. I would implore regulators to come out with proposals really urgently. We need clarity and speed of clarity,” he said.

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