Advantage Travel Partnership members have branded the CAA’s Atol Reform consultation “ill-timed” and say it should have been combined with a review of airline insolvency protection and the Package Travel Regulations (PTRs).
The CAA consultation on Atol reform, which proposes significant changes to how many travel businesses are run, closed on Sunday (August 15).
An Advantage Travel Partnership survey found 80% of the members and 60% of the consortium’s Atol supplier partners consider the consultation ill-timed in the midst of the Covid pandemic.
Almost nine out 10 those surveyed – 87% of members and 86% of suppliers – said the consultation should have been timed to coincide with reviews of airline insolvency and the PTRs.
The CAA proposes the mandatory segregation of client money by Atol holders and by agents selling on their behalf.
Yet almost half Advantage’s suppliers (46%) said they opposed this, with barely one third (30%) in favour.
Three-quarters of suppliers (76%) believed the impact on their cash flow and the burden of administration would be negative.
Four out of five (80%) of suppliers said the CAA should offer a choice or allow “a varied suite” of protection methods.
Two-thirds (67%) of Advantage members also thought segregation of client money by Atol holders would have a negative knock-on effect on agents, with an additional 27% undecided, and 68% having to pass on payments to Atol holders immediately would be have a negative impact – half of these ‘extremely negative’.
There appeared no great enthusiasm among suppliers for a reintroduction of bonding, with just 16% agreeing the CAA should mandate use of bonds to protect client money. However, 50% were undecided. One third (34%) said no.
The survey found support for the CAA proposal to vary Atol Protection Contribution (APC) payments depending on the risk factors, with 60% of Atol-holding suppliers in agreement with this, just 12% opposed and 28% undecided.
Advantage operations director Paul Nunn explained: “The consortium surveyed its entire membership base and Atol-holding suppliers.”
He criticised the timing of the CAA consultation, telling Travel Weekly: “This wasn’t the best time to be asking the questions. People are fighting to save their businesses.
“They did not have the head space or the time to consider the consequences [of the proposals].”