Surprisingly the Governments press release this week barely bothered to dress up the need to replenish the coffers of the CAA with the gloss of consumer protection.
So its with even greater annoyance, that I note that yet again UK airlines have got away scot free and flight only sales are deemed not to require financial protection. Even though this would be the quickest and most efficient way of protecting customers and replenishing the ATTF.
Could somebody please explain to me why a customer needs financial protection, just because the book “Flight Plus”. What exactly about the “Plus” requires financial protection to kick in?
Invariably, it is the collapse of an airline e.g. XL, which causes the most disruption to customers holidays, yet customers can continue to book millions of holidays on British Airways, Ryanair and Easyjet without any financial protection at all? Where exactly is the logic in that?
If a customer “dynamically” packages a holiday themselves by booking a flight and then clicking through to a related accommodation provider, apparently they are not booking a package holiday. However, if a Travel Agent does the exact same thing on their behalf, not only do they have to pay the CAA holiday tax, they now have to take financial responsibility for the airline. How on earth can the CAA expect Travel Agents to be able to afford to pay the cost of replacing low cost, charter or scheduled flights in the case of an airline failure, given the margins they know agents make?
The answer is simple……it’s not their problem!!!
The fair solution is a £1.00 levee, added to the APD fee already being successfully collected by airlines. This way, any time a holidaymaker steps on a plane, they are protected against an airline collapse. If the Government is truly concerned with other elements of the holiday collapsing, by all means impose a further charge of £1.50 on travel agents to create a fund to pay out claims. Few agents would complain compared to the blatantly unfair trading landscape that is proposed and the suicidal nature of the taking financial responsibility for airline failure.
It is NOT to late to fight the “Flight Plus” shambles, but the Industry must unite under one retail banner, which has to be ABTA. John McEwen and Mark Tanzer seem to be up for the fight, so lets get 100% behind them.