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Well covered! Extent of UK travel protection revealed

July 14, 2017 Headline News 1 Comment Email Email

British consumers remain far better protected from travel company collapses than most of their Australian counterparts, with Britain’s Air Travel Trust disclosing that it helped refund and repatriate more than 16,500 holidaymakers in the last financial year, at a cost equivalent to almost AUD 24.7 million.

Since 1973, by law, every UK travel company which sells air holidays and flights is required to hold an Air Travel Organiser’s Licence (ATOL). An ATOL functions rather like Australia’s former Travel Compensation Fund (TCF) in providing consumer protection. It’s administered by the UK Civil Aviation Authority.

If a travel company with an ATOL stops trading, the ATOL scheme protects customers who had booked holidays with the firm. It ensures they do not get stranded overseas or lose money, as often happens in Australia when travel agents fail.

The Air Travel Trust helped refund and repatriate more than 16,500 ATOL-protected holidaymakers in the past financial year, at a cost of GBP 14.7 million.

In a curious British idiosyncrasy, that country’s financial year begins on 6 April. Between April 2016 and March 2017, 19 ATOL holders ceased trading, the largest being All Leisure Holidays Limited.

The Air Travel Trust used its funds to fly home 282 ATOL-protected passengers, who were abroad when their travel company collapsed, and ensured 16,608 holidaymakers, yet to travel, received a full refund.

The number of failures in 2016/17 is up from the 10 ATOL holder companies which collapsed in 2015/16.

The latest figures were revealed as the Air Travel Trust, which oversees the fund used to repatriate and refund holidaymakers affected by tour operator collapse, published its annual report and accounts for 2016/17.

The report highlights that the number of ATOL protected bookings was marginally down, following five years of steady growth, with 24.9 million holidaymakers protected by the ATOL scheme last year, down from 25.2 million the year before.

At the end of financial year 2016/17 the Air Travel Trust fund had a surplus of GBP 145 million (AUD 243.4 million) , up from GBP 139 million (AUD 233.3 million) the previous year, and it is the fifth consecutive year the fund has shown a surplus.

Chair of the Air Travel Trust, Michael Medlicott, said: “In the last 12 months the UK travel industry has faced a number of challenges, including unfavourable currency exchange movements, limited economic growth and a reduction in consumer confidence.

“Furthermore there are a number of ongoing geopolitical situations, which are having a significant impact on key destinations and these continue to present concerns for holidaymakers.

“In the light of all these factors, the travel market has held up very well, which reflects the high priority consumers attach to their holidays.

“I am also pleased that consumers continue to have trust and confidence in the ATOL brand.”

Air Travel Trust (ATT) report and financial statements – key figures at a glance

  • Status of the ATT fund as of 31 March 2017: GBP 145 million in surplus
  • Status of the ATT fund as of 31 March 2016: GBP 139 million in surplus
  • Total amount received in ATOL Protection Contributions (APC): GBP 62.3 million
  • Total protected passengers 2016/17: 24.9 million
  • Number of ATOL holder failures: 19
  • Number of protected passengers repatriated: 282
  • Number of protected passengers entitled to a refund: 16,608
  • Estimated cost of failures to the ATT: GBP 14.7 million

Written by Peter Needham

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. Peter says:

    What an understatement that Brits better protected than Aussies.


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