Travel businesses that are due to renew their ATOL this month are being urged to submit their renewal applications well before 30 September 2021 to avoid a delay to processing.
More than 45% (510 of the potential 1,127) of travel companies are yet to apply to renew their ATOL.
Whilst the Civil Aviation Authority understands the issues the travel industry is facing, it has a duty to protect consumers and make sure that it has complete and accurate financial information before processing a renewal.
As the responsible regulator and in line with the previous renewal period, this includes asking for readily available additional information to provide an up-to-date picture of businesses' financial position. Without this information there may be a delay in the renewal process.
Whilst there has been speculation over recent weeks, any conditions placed on licences during the renewal period are reflective of the current licensing framework and the financial information provided. The future changes discussed in the ATOL Reform consultation have no bearing on current licensing decisions.
Michael Budge, Head of ATOL Licensing at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said:
“We would like to thank travel companies that have already submitted their application and supporting information for renewal in good time, as well as engaging with us throughout the process.
“We understand the challenges the travel industry is facing, but travel companies that have yet to submit their renewals are urged to do so as soon as possible. The earlier they submit, the more we can engage and support in the licence renewal process whilst acting in the best interest of consumers.
“We are mindful that applicants are looking for quick decisions, but reflective of the industry's current financial challenges, things can take longer. Companies that apply late risk a delay in having their ATOL licence processed.”
Over a quarter of applicants in March 2021 applied in the last 10 days leading up to the renewal deadline, which created challenges for both the travel company and Civil Aviation Authority.
Notes to editors
If a new ATOL is not granted before the current one expires, the business will no longer hold an ATOL and will be unable to transact business which is legally required to be covered under ATOL.
This means businesses would have to:
- Stop taking new licensable bookings
- Stop accepting payments for existing licensable bookings
- Instruct agents (if applicable) that they should not accept any new bookings or any payments
- Stop advertising licensable business and remove all references to ATOL on your website/s and other publicity/promotional material.
In addition, there would be a breach of the ATOL Regulations if businesses continued to hold bookings for customers that have entered into licensable transactions. This means businesses would have to notify all customers due to travel after 30 September 2021 that they cannot provide their travel arrangements and provide a full refund of all monies paid.
Any company seeking assistance in renewing can contact the CAA's ATOL team: firstname.lastname@example.org or their usual contact.