Journal: TWUKSection:
Title: Issue Date: 22/05/00
Author: Page Number: 6
Copyright: Other

Vertically integrated companies

AITOchief to press for clarity on operator links


THE NEW executive director of the Association of Independent Tour Operators has vowed to step up pressure on the Government to force vertically integrated companies to show their ownership links.

John Henton, who took over the reins at AITOlast month following the departure of executive manager Julia Hendry, said the length of time it is taking the Government to implement recommendations made by the Monopolies and Mergers Commission over two years ago is proving an ongoing concern for members.

AITO has until June 9 to comment on a revised Department of Trade and Industry document on transparency which was released last week (Travel Weekly May 15). The association is currently consulting members for their views.

His comments were backed by British Airways Holidays managing director Roger Heape who said: “For true transparency, shops must list all their brand names in their windows.”

Henton also hit out at the vertically integrated firms that squeeze out smaller operators when it comes to securing airline seats.

He has called for restrictions on Gatwick slots for companies such as Thomson’s Britannia Airways or Airtours International to make space for independent airlines.

Henton said if small operators are not allocated seats with vertically integrated airlines, it will force them to book with low-cost carriers.

n AITO is demanding Preussag sells its 50.1% Thomas Cook stake before it buys Thomson.

Henton: transparency is a frustrating issue for the association