The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has confirmed it is poised to issue a statement on the delay in publishing an expected consultation on Atol Reform, as first reported by Travel Weekly yesterday.
Speaking at an Abta Travel Regulations Conference in London on Wednesday, CAA head of Atol Michael Budge said: “We continue to work very hard on this.
“We haven’t yet published a consultation and we’ll be issuing a statement on that soon.”
He explained: “It’s an incredibly challenging area of discussion and reform. The Department for Transport want to get this right. We want to get this right, and it’s not as straightforward as some might like to think, particularly when we need to get all stakeholders involved.”
Travel Weekly reported yesterday that the planned Atol reform will not be in place from the CAA’s target start date of April next year, with a consultation on detailed proposals unlikely to appear before next year.
The CAA first proposed changes to the Atol scheme in a consultation published in April 2021. It noted at the time that the process would consider the Atol scheme in isolation from any reform of the Package Travel Regulations (PTRs) or an airline insolvency review.
However, the Department for Business and Trade (DBT) issued a call for evidence on reform of the PTRs in September with a view to consulting on reform of the regulations next year.
Asked whether Atol reform could now be considered more “holistically” alongside the review of the PTRs and even airline insolvency, Budge said: “We recognise the asks [of the industry] for alignment to bring these things together.”
But he argued: “We are not able to do it. It requires a minister to do it. We recognise the challenge to businesses where there are different schemes. We can provide feedback [to ministers]. But that harmonisation can only from ministers.”
Budge noted: “The CAA has been a strong advocate of doing something on airline insolvency. But ultimately it requires the government to do something.”
The CAA is believed to be at an advanced stage in drawing up its Atol Reform proposals, but these require signing off by the Department for Transport where aviation minister Baroness Vere was moved to the Treasury yesterday and replaced by Anthony Browne.
A source explained: “The department officials don’t change, but it does require bringing the new minister up to speed.”