Atol reform will not take a back seat, says CAA

Reform of Atol rules will not take a back seat as the CAA pushes ahead with its prosecution of Travel Republic, the authority has insisted.

On Wednesday, the CAA announced it would seek leave to challenge a Court of Appeal decision that upheld the original not guilty verdict against Travel Republic.

Last week, Thomas Cook chief executive Manny Fontenla-Novoa used a session at the ITT conference to urge the CAA to call off the pursuit of the leading online travel agent. He called it a “distraction” from the work of reforming Atol.

But David Moesli, deputy director of the CAA’s consumer protection group, denied this. He said work was continuing on both fronts and it was in the public interest to continue with the Travel Republic case.

“Atol reform is majoring on the issue of flight-plus [extending the scope of Atol], whereas the issue in this case is what constitutes a package,” he said.

Moesli said the issue was also of interest to other government departments, such as Trading Standards, which the CAA has been talking to.

Asked to respond to Fontenla-Novoa’s comments, Moesli added: “Perhaps people think we either prosecute Travel Republic or continue with Atol reform, whereas the two are proceeding in parallel.”

Moesli also denied the focus in government had been lost on Atol reform. “The new government has not yet concluded how it wants to take this forward.

“There is an awareness that this is an important issue and I would be surprised if matters were delayed for long. I do not detect that the baton has been dropped.”

Mark Tanzer, Abta chief executive, declined to comment on the CAA’s decision.

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