TC 2010: CAA unveils ‘Atol certificates’ for protected customers

ABTA Travel Convention logoThe Civil Aviation Authority has marked the opening day of the Travel Convention by unveiling plans for an Atol Certificate to go to every customer who books a protected holiday.

The CAA believes this will end confusion among consumers when firms go bust. It aims to begin talks with the industry on implementation this week.

The certificate will be a single, standard document – A4 size or smaller – supplied at the same time as a booking reference and holiday details, setting out clearly what is protected by Atol. It should replace all existing paperwork.

The CAA will establish a working group to thrash out the details and timing of the certificate’s introduction, recognising firms need time to change their systems. These details will feed into Department for Transport proposals for a reformed scheme, expected to go out for consultation in the New Year.

CAA consumer protection group deputy director David Moesli said: “The failures this summer showed a lot of consumers are left confused and frustrated when tour operators cease trading, thanks in part to the poor standard of documentation, particularly among travel agents.

The Atol Certificate would mean the second someone books a holiday they receive a single document that sets out what is protected by Atol.

“People will come to expect to receive a Certificate in the same way they expect to receive a ticket and will take it overseas with them like a passport or medical card.”

Moesli told Travel Weekly: “There are agents who do not pass on an Atol-holders’ document despite Abta telling them what to do. This would end that. It will be a distinctive document.”

He added: “We are working on the basis the government is committed to Atol reform. This will feed into what the DfT is doing.”

Aviation minister Theresa Villiers said: “It can be difficult for holidaymakers to know whether their trip is protected by the Atol Scheme. This initiative is an important milestone in providing a scheme fit for the future. We are actively working on wider reforms to Atol.”

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