The major travel groups see no decline in sales of ATOL-protected holidays over the next five years, contradicting suggestions by industry leader TUI that it would slash its ATOL-protected packages next year.
Figures in a Department for Transport consultation document on proposals to replace ATOL bonding predict the number of holidays available under the scheme will remain at 28 million to 29 million a year up to 2012 and beyond.
The figures were prepared by the Civil Aviation Authority’s consumer protection group following discussion with the big four companies.
Annual sales of ATOL-protected holidays have been close to 27 million for the past two years. TUI suggested last year it was keen to cut its ATOL bonding.
The company did not deny reports that it might halve the four million ATOL-protected packages it offers and seek exemption from bonding on a further four million seat-only sales.
Managing director Peter Rothwell said: “We could go further than 50% [in cutting bonding].”
However, the CAA confirmed figures in the consultation document used to predict the income over 10 years from a proposed £1 levy on holidays – or ATOL Protection Contribution (APC) – came direct from the trade, including TUI.
Forecasts for the top four were supplied by the individual companies. The CAA carried out “fairly substantial sampling” among medium-size firms and two leading online retailers also supplied figures.
Consumer protection group director Richard Jackson said: “We talked to the bigger players and asked for their best estimate for the next five years. The trade view is implicit in the figures.”
Deputy director David Moesli added: “One of the major operators said the numbers were a bit conservative.”
The trade has until the end of June to respond to the proposals, with a decision to replace bonding expected in September.
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