Abta calls for phasing in of Atol reform

Abta believes the Flight-Plus Atol reforms and accompanying Atol Certificate need to be implemented in stages and not all by January 1 as the government insists.

The association filed its submission on the proposed reforms to the Department for Transport (DfT) yesterday. Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer told Travel Weekly: “We have members saying they will not be able to implement the proposals by January 1.

“If the DfT wants to phase the introduction that is different, but if everything has to be in place by January 1 a large number of our members won’t be able to do it. If people need individual licences they won’t do it by January 1.

“These are big system changes. For some people, even April would be a struggle. It could be there needs to be a phased implementation.”

When asked what could be in place by the start of the year, he said: “It is feasible you could have Flight Plus by January 1, without the Atol Certificate.” Tanzer added: “We are not attempting to delay this. We want to keep the momentum, but it is better to have a workable solution. We don’t want a botched launch.”

Abta is seeking clarity on the role of the ‘Approved Bodies’ proposed as part of the reforms, which would provide Atol cover on members’ behalf. The association wants this extended to a ‘licensing partner’ role which would allow Abta to offer financial oversight to members requiring Flight-Plus licences through its existing bonding requirements. It suggests this would speed up compliance.

Tanzer said: “The Civil Aviation Authority would have to recognise Abta as an Approved Body. We’re hopeful [that it will]. It could be a big improvement for the industry, but we have not got a settled picture yet. Otherwise, I don’t know how members will do it [comply in the time available].”

Abta has published a webcast on its response to the Atol consultation that can be found on its website.

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