By Sarah Thomas

THE big four operators have welcomed the Office of
Fair Trading’s decision that cancellation charges are not unfair and represent
a genuine estimate of losses.

Despite a lengthy campaign on the issue,
the OFT concluded charges did “not appear disproportionate”.

TUI UK managing director Chris Mottershead was
“delighted” with the decision. “The uncertainty caused by this investigation
has been a distraction and we are pleased the matter has come to an end.”

Thomas Cook, MyTravel and First Choice all welcomed
the verdict.

However, the OFT has asked
operators to keep charges under review. The watchdog also noted that since
first approaching operators in 1999, First Choice and MyTravel, then Airtours,
had reduced their 100% cancellation charges from 21 days to three days and to
the day of departure respectively.