Three leading consortia could break away from ABTA and run their own bonding schemes.

Midconsort chief executive Charles Eftichiou has revealed he has had preliminary discussions with banks and insurance firms about setting up a consortium bonding scheme.

He has taken the step following growing disillusionment from members with what he describes as ABTA’s bureaucratic processes and operator bias. “We have looked at setting up our own bonding,” he said. “Banks and insurers are looking to insure agents again.”

Eftichiou believes the consortia could join forces and run a single scheme for their members.

Advantage managing director John McEwan said it would be “a logical step” to bond all its members. The consortium already issues ABTA bonds for half of its 500 members and some non-members through its insurance business.

However, he said he would wait for a decision on ABTA’s review of its bonding practices before deciding. “It’s something we have thought about taking responsibility for,” he said.

“The bonding process can be onerous for agents and a lot of members and non-members get their bonding through us because it’s better value. That would remain the case if we did it ourselves.”

Worldchoice MD and chairman Colin Heal admitted members are frustrated with ABTA and the consortia could take responsibility for bonding its members, with ABTA remaining as an industry regulation and lobby body. An ABTA spokesman said: “We are unaware and surprised by these moves.”