The industry unity on display over aviation tax did not extend to Atol reform at Abta’s Travel Matters conference.

Tui Travel northern region managing director Johan Lundgren described the proposed flight-plus Atol as “a good step” and said: “Some companies are, in effect, subsidising the activities of less financially stable companies.

“A holiday should be protected whether it is booked on the internet, over the phone or on the high street. All we want is a level playing field. There are companies that started up in the last 10 years whose business model is to avoid every possible cost and provide the lowest possible price.”

However, Abta board member and Travel republic managing director Kane Pirie said: “The idea of flight plus without the airlines is bonkers – it will nobble part of the industry.”

Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer said: “Our concern is to make the proposals workable so people are not encouraged to avoid them.” Chairman John McEwan added: “We have to recognise the realities. It would be wrong for the industry to reject reform.”

Richard Jackson, director of the Civil Aviation Authority consumer protection group, told the conference: “The price of protection is not the real issue. The difference in price between a dynamic package and a package holiday is probably £20, and the Atol Protection Contribution is £2.50. The issue is how you protect consumers’ money.

“Flight plus is a necessary step to protecting consumers and eliminating the deficit in the Air Travel Trust Fund so we can overhaul the system.”