Goldtrail and Kiss Flights failures to cost less than feared

The combined cost to the Atol consumer protection scheme of the Goldtrail Travel and Flight Options failures last summer will be close to £25 million – less than previously feared.

Goldtrail Travel went into administration in July with more than 20,000 customers abroad and 112,000 forward bookings. Flight Options, also known as its trade-facing arm Kiss Flights, ceased trading a month later – having picked up many bookings from former Goldtrail clients. It had 13,000 clients overseas and 60,000 advance bookings.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) declined to comment on the size of the bill for the failures and details of Air Travel Trust Fund (ATTF) finances will not be published until a consultation on Atol reform appears in May.

But Travel Weekly understands the bill to the fund will be near to £25 million. There have been reports the bill for Goldtrail alone would be more than this. The ATTF covers the cost of repatriating consumers stranded abroad when a licensed holiday company fails and settles claims for refunds where holidaymakers or their travel agent are eligible.

It is unclear how many claims have been settled and by whom. The CAA has referred many claimants to credit-card providers. It has also informed an unknown number of agents that claims, or parts of claims, will not be paid. However, the CAA is also understood to have agreed to pay a substantial number of claims it initially considered ineligible – mainly for bookings through online retailers.

Pay-outs totalling £25 million would delay the ATTF moving into surplus until 2014. The fund was almost £32 million in debt at the end of March 2010 and will incur costs of at least £10 million in the current financial year, on top of refund payments on other failures.

However, about £50 million will have been paid into the fund over the course of the year to March from the £2.50-per-person Atol charge on protected bookings.

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