Opinion: CAA must concentrate on ‘Flight Plus’

Chris Photi, senior partner, White Hart AssociatesUsing the analogy of Premier League football, when it comes to the CAA and court hearings and appeals, the CAA would be Portsmouth.

How many times can you go to court in less than five years and lose? How much taxpayers’ money has been spent fighting what appeared from the outset to be losing battles? Presumably, given the latest ruling, they will also be paying the defendant’s costs too.

I was a presenter at an Abta/Law Society seminar two years ago when one of the lawyers there reviewed the Travel Republic terms and conditions on screen. Afterwards, I canvassed all the travel lawyers present and could not find one of them who thought Travel Republic was contravening Atol regulations.

Sometimes, a litigant will drag around its interpretation of the law until it finds someone that will give it the answer it wants. Nevertheless, I do believe the CAA acted in good faith and was attempting to regulate within the confines of the remit given to it by government.

The CAA has not been dealt a good hand by government, and is now protecting and regulating seriously-flawed and out of date legislation. Rather than conducting a stream of appeals, the CAA should be concentrating its efforts on the “Flight Plus” proposal and changes in legislation which make the Atol regulations clear and unequivocal and that provide meaningful consumer protection.

Where to from here? One desperately hopes the CAA will call an end to this and will not refer the matter to the Supreme Court. It is my understanding that this would not be straightforward in any case.

The way forward has to be a fair implementation of the “Flight Plus” proposals, factoring in thoughtful and telling responses from the trade and allowing time for companies that have not broken the law, such as Travel Republic, to meet fair and consistent financial criteria and regulation.

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