ABTA - ATOL Joint Administration To Offer Agents One-Stop Shop

Date: 05 April 2012

The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is today announcing the completion of an agreement with ABTA to offer smaller travel businesses a “one-stop shop” approach to licensing following the introduction of reforms to the ATOL Scheme.

The Government is reforming the ATOL scheme to ensure holidaymakers are protected when they book Flight-Plus holidays, (where a customer asks to book a flight, plus either accommodation, or car hire, or both, on the same day or within one day) and help people to understand what protection their holiday arrangements have.

Today’s agreement means that ABTA will be able to process the ATOL application for their Members who expect to sell up to £1.5m worth of ATOL-protected holidays a year, before they are licensed by the CAA.

The ABTA-ATOL Scheme is designed to offer smaller travel businesses that are ABTA Members a way to obtain an ATOL to protect their Flight-Plus sales that will eliminate duplication of administration and bonding.

Further details about the scheme will be available from ABTA.

Andy Cohen, Head of ATOL Licensing at the CAA said: “This agreement will help to minimise the administrative burden of changes to the ATOL scheme on smaller travel businesses and simplify the process of protecting their Flight-Plus sales. We are very grateful to ABTA for their collaborative approach to working with us on this important agreement.”

The ABTA-ATOL Joint Administration Scheme will initially be available to those travel businesses who sell up to £1.5m of ATOL bookings annually and are currently ABTA members, but are not ATOL holders. For ABTA Members with existing ATOLs, there will be an opt-in option at their next ATOL renewal in September 2012 or March 2013.

Reform to the ATOL scheme will affect travel firms across the country, so to help them prepare the CAA has been running its biggest ever industry education and awareness campaign. This has included appearing at over 50 events to speak to industry about reform, and running a series of CAA open days where travel organisers can receive one-to-one support from the CAA’s licensing team. A simple guide to the changes is also available from the CAA, as a pdf, iBook and in hard copy. A series of factsheets are also being produced to help travel agents understand the changes.

Details of the CAA’s open days and support and guidance for the travel industry is available from the CAA’s new ATOL reform web area at www.atol.org.uk/reform.

For further media information contact the CAA Press on: 0207 453 6030 press.office@caa.co.uk. Follow the CAA on @UK_CAA

Notes to Editors:
1. Agents interested in applying to protect their Flight-Plus sales through the ABTA -ATOL Joint Administration Scheme should get in touch with their usual Financial Liaison Officer at ABTA to begin the process.
2. The ATOL scheme ensures people who have booked an air holiday with an ATOL holder are protected if their travel organiser ceases trading – bringing them back to the UK if abroad, or refunding them if yet to travel. However, with the emergence of the internet meaning people now book holidays in different ways, there is often confusion amongst the public over whether holidays are protected or not. To address this situation, the Government is introducing a series of reforms to the scheme.
3. Included in the reforms is the introduction of ‘Flight-Plus’ – ensuring flights sold with accommodation and/or car hire on consecutive days are financially protected - and new ATOL certificates to help holidaymakers understand how their holidays are protected. In addition, agency agreements will see ATOL holders putting in place agreements with their agents which confirm the terms of their relationship.
4. The CAA is the UK's specialist aviation regulator. Its activities include: making sure that the aviation industry meets the highest technical and operational safety standards; preventing holidaymakers from being stranded abroad or losing money because of travel company insolvency; planning and regulating all UK airspace; and regulating airports, air traffic services and airlines and providing advice on aviation policy from an economic standpoint.