Abta will seek a reduction in the £2.50 levy to pay for consumer financial protection of holidays as part of the consultation on extending the Atol scheme to high street and online retailers.
The Department for Transport is due to publish a consultation document with details of the proposed new flight-plus Atol to cover sales of dynamic packages in May.
Atol-protected package holiday and seat-only sales currently carry a £2.50 charge, or Atol Protection Contribution (APC), which goes into the Air Travel Trust Fund to pay to repatriate and refund consumers if an Atol-holding company fails.
Abta chairman John McEwan told Travel Weekly: “The levy is a given. But we could discuss whether it remains £2.50. We will raise the question of the amount.”
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has already made clear the APC rate will remain at £2.50 until the deficit in the Air Travel Trust Fund is cleared – a situation that is estimated to be more than two years away.
McEwan conceded: “The government position is that it will be £2.50.” However, he believes a lower rate would be less likely to encourage some companies to seek ways to avoid the charge. He said: “The objective is to get as many transactions in as possible. It is in the interests of everyone to have as broad a scheme as possible.”
Flight-plus is thought to be capable of bringing some three million holidays into Atol previously outside of its scope, although this estimation could turn out to be lower and have conesquences for the time line for repaying the ATTF overdraft.
Abta will also raise yet again its demand that scheduled airlines be brought into the Atol scheme, despite successive governments rejecting the idea. McEwan said: “There will be a higher cost of doing business for retailers than for airlines, while the airlines remain outside the [Atol] scheme. We want more of a commitment from the government to bring the airlines in.”
McEwan said Abta was making progress on the issue. “There are signs ministers are more aware of the issues,” he said, “although I would not go so far as to say there is a commitment.”
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