Abta has launched its Abta-Atol Joint Administration Scheme to help members comply with the new Atol regulations and Flight-Plus licences.

The scheme will allow all but the biggest members to apply for an Atol licence through Abta. The fees should be lower than dealing direct with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which confirmed its formal agreement to the scheme today.

Any Abta member with licensable turnover of less than £1.5 million will be eligible. Members applying for an Atol for the first time will be immediately eligible for the scheme.

Those with an existing Atol will be able to apply to opt into the scheme from their next renewal date in September or March next year.

Abta said the scheme would offer a series of benefits including reduced licensing fees, as Abta will not pass administration costs on to members.

The Abta Atol fee will be £710 compared with £1,115 for a Small Business Atol (SBA) and £1,890 for a standard Atol.

The annual renewal fee will be £495 compared with £780 for an SBA renewal and £1,185 for a standard Atol, saving participants up to £2,560 over three years.

In addition, Abta said it will not restrict holiday products sold by members and will not add charges or compulsory fees for supplier failure insurance to booking arrangements.

The Abta-Atol arrangement will give Abta members the flexibility to trade with up to £1.5m in Atol turnover, rather than be limited to 500 passengers under the SBA Atol.

Significantly it will also offer time and cost savings. Abta will fast-track the Atol application process and guide members through it meaning they will not be required to deal directly with the CAA.

There will also be a single point of contact for Abta members with financial liaison officers managing the application process on their behalf.

In addition, Abta is investigating offering a mechanism to hold a combined bond for both the Abta and Atol to prevent double bonding. The association said it will provide an update to members about this in due course.

John de Vial, Abta head of financial protection, said: “The Abta-Atol Joint Administration Scheme represents a very significant member benefit for those drawn into the scope of the Atol system for the first time.

“It reduces the cost and complexity of the licensing process, while leaving members with complete freedom to choose what products they sell and who they do business with.”

Application packs for Abta-Atol JAS will be sent out to all Abta members in the week starting April 10.