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Plea to Atol holders to apply early for March 2022 renewals

Atol holders with licences due to expire in March are being urged to apply to renew as soon as possible.

Speaking at The Specialist Travel Association (Aito) 2021 conference, Travel Trade Consultancy director Matt Purser advised tour operators to start putting together their renewal applications now ahead of the March 31, 2022, deadline.

There are around 661 Atol holders due to renew in March 2022.  In September, the Civil Aviation Authority granted 871 Atol licences by the official renewal date, at which point 118 applications were outstanding while 144 Atol holders chose not to renew out of the total of 1,133 licences up for renewal. Of those who did not apply, 41 licence holders no longer required an Atol.

Purser said: “The advantage of the March renewals is that less companies renew in March than in September but I think you have to start the renewal process as early as you possibly can.

“The problem is that if you wait until the end of January you will then be in a long queue of companies. You are better off renewing now than sitting on your hands.”

Purser said he believed many operators had chosen not to renew their Atol [during the pandemic] because they “don’t want to do flights” following problems trying secure clients’ refunds for cancelled bookings.

Jonathan Wall, managing director of accountancy firm Elman Wall, agreed it was sensible for operators to apply as soon as possible rather than leaving it until the last minute.

“We encourage our clients to submit as early as possible. Put your financials in and get the accounts done and submitted,” he said, adding it could be a “long, hard slog”, particularly to put together details of a company’s financial history for the Atol renewal application.

Similarly, Julie Jones, development director, The Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust (Abtot) said key stakeholders, such as insurers, would want to start talking to Atol holders to find out how they manage market uncertainty and structure their debt.

She said: “Insurers want to have an open dialogue with you. One of the key messages [from them] was for those conversations to start earlier.”

The pleas follow a similar message by the CAA earlier this year for companies to apply in good time because of the time required to analyse and process applications and put any necessary conditions in place.

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