The Travel Network Group has welcomed the aviation regulator’s consultation on Atol reform despite potential challenges for travel businesses.
However, Trailfinders took a more critical stance.
The Civil Aviation Authority’s consultation proposes fundamental changes to Atol licensing requirements which many travel companies may struggle to meet.
It proposes moving Atol holders to trust or similar arrangements which would tie up most customer receipts for weeks or months.
Businesses would be required to segregate customer payments partially or in total.
TTNG chief executive Gary Lewis said: “We welcome the consultation.
“It’s really important that financial protection bakes in the real cost of risk and we take learnings from the huge challenges that have been laid bare through this pandemic.
“Ultimately the government, through the CAA, underwrite a large proportion of our industry’s risk but as our members pay for the cost, we should rightly have a voice on how that is shaped going forward.”
He added: “We all want costs to be low and licensing to be simple. We also need capacity in the risk markets and choice.
“It is easy for the risk markets to be there in the good times and run away in the bad.
“These are the issues the CAA recognise they need to grapple with and we as an industry will have to face up to.
“Travel Trust Association has led the way with the trust account model and has a proven flexibility to meet many of the challenges the CAA are looking to resolve.”
A Trailfinders spokesperson said: “Given the travel industry’s track record on protecting client money, this is like asking the foxes how well they’d like the hen house secured?
“Surely the travelling, tax-paying public are the ones who should be consulted?
“The travel industry have always been allowed to embezzle money paid over for future travel as ‘working capital’ instead of being obliged to safeguard it until the bargain is fulfilled. It is high time for change.
“All other such pipeline commerce in banking, insurance, property transactions and even bookmaking is strictly regulated, meanwhile the CAA continue to licence under-capitalised travel providers and not even insist on escrow accounting.”
The consultation will extend to July 30, with a follow-up consultation detailing specific proposals expected early next year.