The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is today advising British Muslims planning to make the Hajj pilgrimage to make sure they get an ATOL certificate when booking their trip, to protect themselves against the risk of their travel company going bust.
The CAA’s advice comes after incidents in recent years when customers have paid out for Hajj travel packages with companies not licensed by the ATOL scheme, only to lose their money when something goes wrong with the company. There have also been a number of reports of Hajj package providers claiming to be ATOL-protected, but not holding ATOL licences.
The CAA runs the ATOL scheme on behalf of the Government to protect people against the risk of their travel company or one of its suppliers going bust. Customers that book an ATOL-protected trip will be refunded if the company collapses before they’re due to depart; and will be able to continue their trip and return home safely if it collapses whilst they are abroad.
With over 20,000 British Muslims expected to make the Hajj pilgrimage this year, the CAA is now advising them to check for ATOL protection when they book their Hajj package for this October to ensure people have the peace of mind that their money is safe.
David Clover, from the ATOL scheme, said:
“We understand the Hajj is an important time in many Muslims’ lives and it can cost thousands of pounds in flights and accommodation. So we want the Muslim community to know that if they don’t book an ATOL-protected trip, they could miss out on making the pilgrimage and also lose their money.
“Unfortunately we have seen examples of companies looking to exploit people at this important time in their lives, and we’re looking to work with the industry to make sure that companies selling Hajj packages are providing customers with the financial protection they are entitled to.”
British Muslims looking to book Hajj travel can check if a company offers ATOL protection by taking three easy steps:
• Look for the ATOL logo on a company’s promotional material
• Check the company’s name on the online database at www.packpeaceofmind.co.uk
• Before confirming a booking, check an ATOL certificate will be provided once payment has been made.
For more information, please contact the CAA Press Office, on firstname.lastname@example.org, or 020 7453 6030.
You can follow the CAA on Twitter at www.twitter.com/UK_CAA
Notes to editors
1. Run by the UK Civil Aviation Authority on behalf of the Government, the Air Travel Organiser’s Licence (ATOL) scheme covers the traditional package holiday, some individual flights and since April 2012 holidays known by the industry as ‘Flight-Plus’. A ‘Flight-Plus’ booking is one that includes a flight plus accommodation and/or car hire, so long as these separate parts of the holiday are booked with the same company and within a day of each other.
2. Travel companies must also financially protect flights if they are not in a position to provide passengers with airline tickets at the time of booking.
3. More information about the ATOL scheme including video content and FAQs is available at www.packpeaceofmind.co.uk.
4. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office also issues general travel advice for people travelling to Saudi Arabia to make the Hajj pilgrimage. More information is available at: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/saudi-arabia/safety-and-security
5. 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 tour operator 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.