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Package holiday protection scheme set for April launch – but certificates are delayed

Aviation Minister Teresa Villiers has announced a delay to the ATOL scheme which will supply holidaymakers with protection certificates when they purchase their holidays.

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The ATOL certificate scheme was due to come into effect on 30 April, as part of ATOL’s new package holiday protection scheme, but certificates have now been put back to 1 October. The travel industry’s membership organisation ABTA has welcomed the delay to enable travel agents more time to prepare.

Changes to the scheme were also announced, with “Flight-Plus” holidays being included in the scheme.

Flight-Plus holidays consist of holidays which appear to be a package holiday but are actually a flight with other options such as accommodation added on.

These holidays currently fall outside the scheme, which will involve holidaymakers receiving an ATOL certificate at point-of-purchase when they book their holiday. This will enable holidaymakers to know whether their holiday is ATOL-protected.

A new Civil Aviation Bill is currently passing through Parliament, which will also enable changes to the ATOL certificate scheme.

ATOL – together with tour operators TUI and Thomson – has called on the government to include non-package holidays in the certificate scheme. Holidays which are not packaged are sometimes called “agent for the consumer” deals or are holidays sold by airline companies. Including them in the ATOL certificate scheme would create a level playing field, says ATOL.

The chief executive of ABTA Mark Tanzer said that the package of reforms announced – including the extension of protection to include 'Flight Plus' holidays – marked “a significant first step to improving a system that is outdated, unfair and confusing – we consider the inclusion of holidays sold by airlines an essential second step”.

Mr Tanzer added:

"While we are pleased the Government acknowledged the need to include these… we urge them to act swiftly to introduce the necessary legislation to make this happen."

A new package of information for travel companies is being prepared by the Civil Aviation Authority for the 30 April launch of the ATOL package holiday protection scheme.

ABTA will provide written guidance on the reforms – and travel agents and tour operators are expected to give feedback on how well the scheme is working.

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Dated: 10/02/2012


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