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TUI chief to call for ATOL shakedown

TUI Travel chief executive Peter Long will call for an urgent review of the ATOL system and argue for universal protection when he meets transport secretary Geoff Hoon next Thursday.


He will tell Hoon the current system is detrimental to consumers and unfair to operators.


It is understood Long will insist the ATOL regime protects all UK air passengers regardless of carrier or method of booking and regardless of whether travel arrangements are booked alone or in combination. The current system is confusing, he is expected to say, leaving most people not knowing whether they are protected and unable to make an informed choice. The airlines’ argument that scheduled carriers do not fail has been shattered, Long will tell the transport secretary.


It is believed he will make clear the sector opposes any rise in the £1 ATOL Protection Contribution and call instead for a risk assessment of potential failures.


TUI Travel and Thomas Cook wrote jointly to then transport secretary Ruth Kelly following the failure of XL Leisure Group in September, outlining their concerns and requesting a meeting. However, Thomas Cook chief executive Manny Fontenla-Novoa will not be at the meeting on December 4 as he is due at a group conference.


A Thomas Cook spokeswoman said: “Manny has every intention of meeting Geoff Hoon, but he cannot attend on that date and has agreed Peter should go.” She added: “It is an unfair playing field, consumers are confused and there has to be clarity.”


The Civil Aviation Authority responded to reports it expects a rise in the £1 APC next year, saying: “We do not recognise the figures quoted recently.”


However, the CAA has yet to clarify how it will deal with trade claims for refunds on Freedom Flights bookings following the collapse of XL Leisure. A CAA spokesman said: “We are still looking at.”


He added: “We continue to work closely with the trade, as we have throughout this process.”



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