'Flight Plus' holidays confirmed for ATOL certificates


A new holiday certification scheme, designed to assure travellers that their trips are protected as soon as they are purchased, will include 'Flight Plus' holidays from 1 October 2012.

The ATOL scheme is scheduled to start on 30 April. However, the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) has welcomed the later inclusion of Flight Plus, saying the delay allows operators and agents more preparation time.

Flight Plus Holidays Scheme

Flight Plus is a holiday that looks like a package but currently falls outside the definition of 'package' under the Package Travel Directive, by which ABTA requires organisers and sellers of package holidays to provide greater customer protection.

To ensure fairness for all parties, ABTA, TUI Travel and Thomas Cook have called on the government to include holidays sold by airlines or arranged on an 'agent for the consumer' basis.

The government said further changes to the ATOL scheme would be proposed as part of the Civil Aviation Bill which is currently before parliament.

The ABTA chief executive, Mark Tanzer, says that the reforms package announced by the Aviation minister Theresa Villiers marks a significant first step in improving a system that is outdated, unfair and confusing.

"We consider the inclusion of holidays sold by airlines an essential second step," said Mr Tanzer. "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."

Before 30 April, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) will produce an information pack for operators and agents, as well as offering trade guidance and speaking at events in the period leading up to the certification scheme's rollout.

With travel industry players given the opportunity for feedback, details of how the scheme will work will be finalised before the spring deadline.

Following the announcement of the Flight Plus inclusion, ABTA has promised to publish comprehensive written guidance on the reforms.

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