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Flight Centre will join ATAS when it launches in July

April 11, 2014 Corporate, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Flight Centre will join the voluntary, AFTA-administered Australian Travel Accreditation Scheme (ATAS) when it takes force from the start of July.

Flight Centre managing director Graham Turner, who is vice chairman of AFTA’s board, considers that ATAS will be a superior option to the Travel Compensation Fund (TCF).

It will be interesting to see the position that other AFTA directors, such as chief executive of Consolidated Travel, Spiros Alysandratos, take on the same issue. http://www.tourismlegal.com.au/

Turner said the TCF placed an unfair financial burden on Australian travel agents, who have been “required to pay substantial fees annually, but at the same time it exempted airlines and overseas operators”. The situation had created an “unlevel playing field”, Turner said, echoing a phrase used by AFTA chief executive Jayson Westbury.

In a statement committing the group to the scheme, Turner said ATAS would remove the “unfair financial and administrative burdens that Australian travel agents traditionally face.

“We believe ATAS is a superior option to the old Travel Compensation Fund…the reality is that the TCF placed an unfair financial burden on Australian travel agents, who were required to pay substantial fees annually, but at the same time it exempted airlines and overseas operators,” Turner said.

“We look forward to signing on,” he added.

Flight Centre supported AFTA’s view that “supplier insolvency insurance should not be a compulsory part of ATAS,” Turner confirmed.

Turner said Flight Centre had a history of taking proactive steps to protect its customers in the event of supplier failure, adding that “other agencies and chains can take similar steps to protect their customers.

“If they truly see value and a point of difference in insolvency insurance, they can also elect to take out policies at an individual or group level… we do not subscribe to any view that individual agencies should be forced down that path,” he said.

Turner also pointed out that TCF members were “forced to deal with significant administrative red tape and restrictions that, in FLT’s case, prevented the company from controlling its own balance sheet.

“This new system, which has been developed by the industry for the industry, addresses these issues and provides comfort to member agencies’ customers as ATAS will use quality assessment to assess participants.

“Key areas that will be assessed will include business disciplines, solvency, training and compliance.”

On a completely different front, meanwhile, Flight Centre was forced into damage control mode earlier this week when a computer glitch caused corporate flight and travel itinerary information to be sent to the wrong companies.

Written by : Peter Needham

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