The Civil Aviation Authority is expected to release details on the standard terms of the Flight Plus Atol and proposed Atol Certificate today, along with details of how ‘approved bodies’ will work.
The details should help resolve whether Abta moves to act as a Flight Plus approved body from next April.
Abta head of financial protection John de Vial described talks with the CAA on how the bodes would work as “constructive”, but said: “We have more questions than answers at the moment. We don’t know how the scheme will work.”
The uncertainty has meant large numbers of Abta members don’t know whether they will need to hold a licence of their own or be covered by Abta or another approved body when the Flight Plus regime launches next April. The difference could be substantial in cost and complexity.
Speaking at World Travel Market in London last week, De Vial said: “It is Abta’s desire to do it [set up as an approved body], but not at any risk.
“The DfT consultation said an approved body will, in effect, act as a parent Atol or umbrella Atol. So an approved body has to act as though it’s a parent company to its members and provide a trading guarantee.
“Yet no trade association would give a blanket guarantee for its members. It would be a miss-use of members’ funds.” He added: “I don’t think any of our members see us acting as a parent company.”
De Vial said for the association to act as an approved body “would require a different share of risk between Abta and the Air Travel Trust”. Without that, he said: “All the Air Travel Trust would be protecting against would be the failure of an approved body. Every organisation is going to look sceptically at that.”
Without approved bodies, de Vial said: “The CAA would have to license the entire industry.”
De Vial described the CAA’s proposed £20,000 initial charge for an Approved Body licence as “strange”, but said the size of the fee was not a problem.
He said: “The £20,000 charge is important, but it’s not the issue. A flat fee seems strange because we are massively different sizes.”
Barclays Corporate head of travel Chris Lee said: “There will not be a rash of these approved bodies. . . For £20,000, the CAA will check the approved body’s governance [of its members] and arrange an external audit. It has to be paid for.”
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