This Bill aims to modernise the Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing (ATOL) the consumer protection scheme for package holidays that include a flight, allowing for UK businesses to trade across Europe more easily, and ensuring a wider body of consumers are protected.
It will also provide an ability for the scheme to adapt to future trends, including changes that may be brought about as the United Kingdom leaves the European Union.
The ATOL scheme was set up in the 1970s to protect passengers purchasing flights (mainly where these form part of a package holiday) in the event that the business they purchased the package from became insolvent. It protects over 20 million holiday-makers each year with the promise of a refund, or return transport, if their travel provider went bust and is one of the ways in which the UK provides mandatory protection under the European Package Travel Directive.
This Bill will extend ATOL protection to a broader range of holidays, including “linked travel arrangements”. These are an increasingly common way of booking holidays online and includes two or more travel services but applies when the customer makes a single visit to a shop or website, and selects and pays for each service separately. At the moment some of the businesses that sell these sorts of holidays are not ATOL protected but under this new Bill they could apply for a license.
It will also make it easier for United Kingdom businesses to sell flight arrangements covered by the new regulations seamlessly across Europe. This will enable the UK to comply with the Package Travel Directive obligations in the short term while retaining an ability to adapt the scheme as appropriate when the United Kingdom leaves the EU.
This Bill comes from the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling MP.
It is unlikely that this will be a particularly controversial Bill, as the licensing around holidays booked online clearly needs updating.
How to get involved
You can find out more about ATOL from the Civil Aviation Authority, or by contacting your MP.
If I don’t act, will it go through?
This is a Government Bill and as a rule they tend get passed, however, with a hung parliament this is no longer a certainty.