EasyJet will financially protect customers of its holiday venture with Lowcost Travel Group through insurance and not through the Air Travel Organiser’s Licence (Atol) scheme.
The low-cost carrier’s chief commercial officer Dana Dunne confirmed: “We will offer financial protection through insurance as we do now, and as is perfectly within the Package Travel Regulations We will provide exactly the same level of protection [as Atol] through insurance.”
EasyJet announced a three-year deal with accommodation and transfer provider Lowcost Travel Group earlier this month. The pair will offer holidays in the major markets across Europe through easyJet.com/holidays.
Dunne said the company would respond as necessary to any changes in Atol regulations, with the Department for Transport poised to announce proposals for reform that would create a ‘flight-plus’ Atol to cover sales of holidays as separate components. “All we can do is operate within the regulations as they are and follow them if they change,” said Dunne.
The brand will launch in the UK in “early spring”, he said.
Dunne declined to say how many holidays would be on sale, although reports have suggested the pair have targeted sales of 1.5 million a year within three years. But he emphasised easyJet has 200 aircraft and said the deal “would put us in the top three to five in the market in the UK”.
That would place the venture at least on a par with Monarch Airlines and its subsidiaries Cosmos, Avro and Somewhere2.stay. “We should be significant in the market,” he said.
Dunne also confirmed the carrier is considering registering the operation outside the UK. This would place it outside UK requirements to pay VAT under the Tour Operator’s Margin Scheme (TOMS), although it would not escape VAT in other European jurisdictions.
“We are looking at the structure,” Dunne told Travel Weekly. “We are a pan-European airline, based in multiple countries, and we are looking at the most efficient and effective way of organising.”
The pair will also consider selling holidays through other retailers. Dunne said: “We have been very encouraged by the positive feedback from the trade. It is definitely an option, but no decision has been made.”
Lowcost Travel Group chief executive Paul Evans agreed: “We are considering selling through the trade. Lowcost Travel is a trade-friendly brand.”
The pair are developing a dedicated website for the holiday brand. Evans said: “We have the brand, we have the aircraft and we have the hotel stock. It is going to be a very strong proposition.”