Travel agents who sold Thomas Cook holidays have been given an extended deadline of January 31, 2020 to return pipeline money.
The move by the Civil Aviation Authority is aimed at “minimising disruption” to the travel industry following the collapse of Thomas Cook on September 23.
Agents were advised at the time of the failure to hold onto pipeline money – funds paid by consumers but not yet been passed to Thomas Cook.
The aviation regulator’s Atol department today sent out further instructions to agents that sold Thomas Cook packages, advising them to return all pipeline monies to the Air Travel Trust.
A claims service was launched on October 7 in an attempt to avoid any delays in processing Atol consumer claims.
Atol then began the process of refunding Thomas Cook customers before it gave any instruction on what to do with pipeline monies – a process that usually is required within a month.
With the claims process underway, agents have now been told that pipeline monies must be returned to the Air Travel Trust by January 31.
The CAA said: “Providing pipeline monies have been returned to the ATT by 31 January 2020, travel agents will be able to invoice the ATT a handling fee of £50 (plus VAT) for each booking to help cover the associated administrative costs.”
But the authority added: “Travel agents that were awaiting receipt of their commission from Thomas Cook will not be able to deduct this from the pipeline monies owed to the ATT.
“Any claim for commission must be submitted to the Official Receiver as a claim in liquidation.”
CAA head of Atol licensing Michael Budge said: “We are grateful for the co-operation from travel agents over the past weeks. The impact of Thomas Cook’s liquidation is far reaching and we want to ensure that consumers’ refunds are processed efficiently.
“We will now recover pipeline monies from travel agents and, while we are not able to honour commissions agreed with Thomas Cook, we will be able to pay a handling fee for the return of pipeline monies to the Air Travel Trust.
“The Civil Aviation Authority recognises the scale of this situation and in these exceptional circumstances, to minimise disruption to the industry while agents continue to support their customers, we have extended the period in which agents should return pipeline monies to 31 January 2020.”
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