No change in our view on airlines and Atol, says DfT

The Department for Transport has restated its view that bringing airlines into the Atol scheme requires primary legislation, despite a senior industry lawyer’s verdict that carriers are included in the draft regulations for licence reform.

The DfT said it would “ensure the draft regulations are fully consistent” with its view. Peter Stewart of Field Fisher Waterhouse argues the government’s proposed Flight-Plus regulations include airline sales of holidays.

Stewart makes his point in the latest Travel Law Quarterly, published yesterday. He told Travel Weekly: “The draft regulations include airlines. If an airline sells a Flight-Plus holiday, the carrier will be responsible to the customer.”

Abta wrote to the DfT yesterday seeking clarification. Association head of legal services Simon Bunce said: “We need to see what they come back with.” Chief executive Mark Tanzer said of Stewart’s view: “If that is the legal position, it changes when airlines become part of this.”

Advantage chief executive John McEwan, who is chairman of Abta, added: “If Peter Stewart is correct there would be no legal impediment to bring in airlines without primary legislation. It puts the government in an interesting position.”

A DfT spokeswoman said: “We are grateful for the points Peter Stewart raised. One purpose of the consultation on Atol reform is to receive feedback on whether the draft regulations achieve the government’s policy objectives and have the intended effect.”

However, she told Travel Weekly: “Including holiday sales by airlines in the Atol scheme does require new primary legislation. We will ensure the draft regulations are fully consistent with this as we take forward work on the reforms following the consultation.”

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