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Renewed calls for scheduled airlines to be ATOL-protected

The collapse of Zoom Airlines brought renewed calls for scheduled airlines to be brought into the ATOL-consumer protection scheme after 65,000 passengers were left stranded or out of pocket.


However, carriers immediately rebuffed the trade’s demands.


Budget airline Zoom ceased flying last Thursday after the Civil Aviation Authority instructed airport-owner BAA to stop a flight departing Glasgow for Canada over non-payment of air traffic control fees.


Zoom had earlier announced it would continue flying despite filing for bankruptcy protection in Canada and having an aircraft impounded by authorities in Calgary.


The CAA said 4,500 UK passengers were stranded abroad and 60,000 lost advance bookings. Only 10,000 will be entitled to full refunds under the ATOL scheme – having bought flights through the trade as part of a package.


Thomson Holidays commercial director David Burling said: “Only one third of UK holidaymakers travel on a package that is financially protected. Continued lack of government action leaves the remaining two-thirds at risk.”


But Monarch Airlines managing director Tim Jeans said: “Why should seven million Monarch passengers or 50 million with Ryanair pay £1 each to protect Zoom? Hundreds of thousand of people fly in and out of the UK and 60,000 at Zoom are out of pocket. It is no reason to change anything.”


Zoom Airlines flew from Gatwick, Glasgow, Manchester, Cardiff and Belfast to eight destinations in Canada, and to New York, Fort Lauderdale, San Diego and Bermuda. It was registered in the UK and Canada.


The carrier blamed its collapse on high fuel prices and the economic downturn. However, a senior industry source said: “Zoom was brought down by its creditors. It tried to seek bankruptcy protection and the airports got in before they were shut out.”


Air Transat Holidays, Canadian Affair and Flyglobespan announced additional flights to Canada in the wake of Zoom’s collapse.


Gatwick-based seat-only operator Pure Flights has also failed with 300 UK holidaymakers abroad and 1,000 advance bookings. An ABTA member, it offered charters from several UK airports to the eastern Mediterranean.




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