Air Travel Trust fund rebounds to £169m

The Air Travel Trust fund which backs up the Atol consumer financial protection scheme stood at £169 million at the end of January.

Air Travel Trust accounts for the 12 months to March 2023, published one Thursday, reveal the healthy state of the fund.

It has swelled from £116.7 million at the end of the accounting period, March 31 2023, reflecting the strong recovery in the overseas package holiday market since the end of pandemic restrictions.

The Air Travel Trust fund was almost emptied by the collapse of Thomas Cook in September 2019.

The trust accounts and annual report reveal almost £66 million was paid into the fund in Atol Protection Contributions (APCs) in the 12 months to March 2023, reflecting 26.6 million Atol-protected bookings – more than 11 million up on the previous 12 months.

The report notes only eight Atol holders ceased trading through the 12 months, resulting in payments totalling £5.3 million.

More than £3.3 million of this amount was due to the failure of Dream World Travel in July 2022, which ceased trading with more than 14,600 forward bookings.

However, only 15 passengers required repatriation from abroad during the entire accounting period.

The report notes five Atol holders have failed since the end of March, at an expected cost of £5 million to the fund.

Of these failures, luxury tour operator Luxtripper will be the most costly. It ceased trading in October owing £11.9 million and is expected to cost the Air Travel Trust about £4 million.

The fund has an additional borrowing facility of £75 million and an underlying guarantee from the government. However, it has not replaced the insurance against the failure of one of the biggest Atol holders which applied at the time of Thomas Cook’s failure.

The Civil Aviation Authority, which oversees the Atol scheme, celebrated the 5oth anniversary of Atol last year and marked this with a Parliamentary reception in January, held in partnership with Travel Weekly.

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