ABTA’s Board of Directors is planning to bring in outside consultants to cut its £4m running costs in a move which could lead to redundancies at Newman Street.

The move is designed to slash subscriptions fees, one of the biggest gripes of members.

Board member Warren Sandral said it was ridiculous to revamp the councils and board, which cost around £350,000 to run, without looking at the rest of the ABTAoperation.

“If you want to do a blueprint of the association you cannot just look at the committee side,” he said. “The association’s running costs are £4m a year. Independent consultants may be able to identify areas where cost savings can be made.”

One area where cuts could be made was the claims department, Sandral added. He admitted the plans could lead to redundancies among the 75 Newman Street staff but said the current economic climate meant that every company has had to look at rationalisation.

Airtours company secretary Andy Cooper, who is also a board member, also backed the plans.

“ABTA has been looking at income and membership fees and not focused attention on its level of expenditure – that is something an outside consultant would do. It needs a fresh pair of eyes,” he said.

TOC vice chairman and board member John Harding said subscriptions fees were the biggest concerns of members.

“I have no doubt the plans will get the support of the board,” he said.

ABTAchief executive Ian Reynolds said it was too early too comment on the plans because the board was not due to meet until July 28. “I await to hear the proposals with interest.”

Meanwhile, tour operators are expected to form their own breakaway council in the upheaval.

TOC chairman John Bond is calling on officials to set up a body similar to the travel agents’ Council of Regions.

A meeting is due to take place at Newman Street tomorrow where the blueprint will be scrutinised by operators.

“I believe there are matters which need to be discussed only by operators and that a working party or council should be set up to do just that,” said Bond. “If we are not careful some issues may be lost if they are only dealt with by the board.”

Tomorrow’s meeting starts at 3pm.

n Blueprint row, back page