A leading consultant to the travel sector and former Atol manager at the CAA has described the CAA’s proposed Atol reforms as “extraordinary”
Matt Purser, Travel Trade Consultancy director, said: “They are talking about changing the whole regulations.”
Speaking at the autumn general meeting of Aito, the Specialist Travel Association, Purser noted the release of the latest Air Travel Trust accounts last week which revealed the £444-million cost of the failure of Thomas Cook.
He pointed out: “The next biggest Atol failure [in the same period] cost £3.6 million. The Atol consultation is about ripping up how the CAA licenses companies off the back of a one-off event. I find that extraordinary.”
The CAA consultation, which ended in August, proposes a wholesale move towards segregating customer money through the use of ‘escrow’ or trust accounts by Atol holders.
Purser said the CAA had used the latest Atol renewal to “try to push more and more of the industry down the escrow route”.
He argued: “There was some push back and I think they stepped back. But there are still more companies with trust arrangements in place now than this time a year ago.”
Purser noted: “There is the cost of running a trust account [and] there are the cash flow implications.”
He told Aito members: “I’ve never known a renewal like it. It has been painful. There was a bigger delay in the [CAA] turnaround of cases this year than ever.”
Asked about the 144 Atol holders which did not renew their licences this September, Purser said: “Some have mothballed businesses and will come back when they see fit.
“Some decided to take early retirement. A number to renew and have been asked to put cash in and are in negotiations about how to renew.”
Purser worked at the CAA for 14 years before jointly founding the Travel Trade Consultancy in 2005.