High street travel agency Trailfinders has left Abta to join the Travel Trust Association (TTA).

With an annual turnover of £720m, Trailfinders becomes the TTA’s largest member.

The 34-branch agency chain has transferred its trust account model and Atol to the TTA, which will bring “significant cost savings” while also offering full financial protection.

The TTA, set-up 25 years ago, is owned by The Travel Network Group and offers members Atol licences under a special franchise arrangement with the CAA.

Trailfinders has been operating in the UK since 1970 and serves around 445,000 clients a year.

It was founded by chairman Mike Gooley with a staff of four. It now employs more than 1,000 people and posted record-breaking profits this year.

In June it was announced managing director Tony Russell would retire at the end of the year and was succeeded by Toby Kelly, who moved into the position of chief executive.

The Travel Network Group chief executive Gary Lewis said: “Trailfinders is a phenomenal business with a phenomenal culture. The leadership team is relatively new with the chairman staying in place.”

“It’s significant to us because they are a massive player coming to us because they trust us and our TTA model,” Lewis said.

“I’m really excited to meet and work with them. Their leadership team is very dynamic and it was a very easy process for us.

“Trailfinders’ move to TTA will allow them to significantly reduce their Atol Air Passenger Contribution fees, while supporting their financial protection and compliance requirements.”

A spokeswoman from Abta said: “Abta is a very different organisation to The Travel Network Group. It provides a wide range of benefits to our members and support to their customers.

“Independent research shows that as well as being the UK’s most recognised and trusted travel scheme, Abta’s Code of Conduct, help in a travel crisis and holiday complaints resolution are all very important to members of the public.”

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