McEwan: ‘Atol plans are less than half what’s needed’

Government proposals to extend consumer protection of holiday purchases do not go even half-way to meeting the trade’s concerns, according to Abta chairman John McEwan.

Aviation minister Theresa Villiers unveiled plans last week to create a new ‘flight-plus’ Air Travel Organisers’ Licence (Atol) to cover sales of so-called dynamic packages.

Abta gave Villiers’ statement a qualified welcome, but association chairman and Advantage chief executive McEwan told Travel Weekly in a TWnewsmaker interview: “The proposals would leave us less than 50% of where we need to get to.”

McEwan and Abta continue to argue for scheduled airlines to be brought into the Atol scheme. McEwan also expressed disappointment at Villiers’ statement regarding ‘click-through’ sales – when a consumer buys a flight on an airline website and is immediately offered a link to an accommodation site.

The Abta chairman said he had hoped the government would commit to introducing primary legislation to tackle click-through sales. Instead, the minister promised only to “consider” this, saying: “There may be a case for new primary legislation to address other issues.” McEwan said: “Her words could have been stronger.”

Abta has a working party on Atol reform already in place comprising representatives of tour operators, agents, online travel agents and members of the Abta executive. The association intends to canvass members for their views ahead of the official Department for Transport consultation expected in May.

Share article

View Comments

Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

The highest official awards for UK businesses since being established by royal warrant in 1965. Read more.