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14 Mar 2018

BY James Chapple

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Agents warned they will have little time to comply with Atol changes

Even if the industry is granted a “grace period” to implement the new package travel and Atol regulations, the window is too tight, a leading travel lawyer has warned.

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EU member states were given until January 1 to transpose PTD 2 into national law, and it will apply from July 1, but the industry has no clearer view of what the regulations it will be working to will look like.

 

The Department for Transport (DfT) and Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) are working towards the summer deadline.

 

Alan Bowen, legal advisor to the Association of Atol Companies, told TTG: “They [the government] just haven’t done anything [about implementating PTD 2].

 

"It will be the travel industry that’s punished by the government’s inaction.

 

"If there is a grace period, say three months, this still won’t be long enough to make the required changes to things like IT systems.”

 

Over the past two years, the DfT has consulted on changes to Atol, while BEIS has been tasked with updating the UK’s Package Travel Regulations.

 

Meanwhile, the CAA and DfT issued further consultations on Atol last month, giving the industry until March 23 to respond.

 

The DfT is considering broadening the scope of Atol protection under a new definition of a “package” and updating which “groups” need Atols.

 

However, Bowen said the latest consultation periods were too short and had come too late: “Agents still don’t know what a package will constitute after July 1,” he said.

 

Abta calls for relaxed timescale

Abta calls for relaxed timescale

Abta, meanwhile, warned members last week to pay close attention to the CAA’s new draft Atol regulations and standard terms, warning some go beyond those of PTD.

 

One example, Abta says, is the level of information provided to consumers on Atol protection before and after sale: “It is important companies are aware of the suggested changes,” said Simon Bunce, Abta’s director of legal affairs.

 

Other CAA proposals include “plans to require small firms to report quarterly rather than annually” said Abta – both of which are not required by PTD.

 

“We encourage Abta members to share their feedback with us as part of our own consultation process,” continued Bunce.

 

“Abta will also make the point to the CAA and DfT that any additional changes to regulations or terms, which don’t relate to PTD, shouldn’t be pushed through on the same tight timescale, and that some elements may require further consultation, particularly where current consultation contains only proposals and no firm drafting that can be properly assessed.”

 

A BEIS spokesperson said: “The government has consulted extensively with the travel industry on this issue and will continue to work closely with them to ensure they are prepared ahead of the regulations coming into force later this year.”

 

BEIS expects to publish its response to last summer’s PTD consultation shortly and “lay regulations” after Easter.

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