The government has confirmed its proposed changes to the Atol scheme - less than a month before the implementation of the new Package Travel Regulations (PTRs) on July 1.
The Department for Transport (DfT) held two separate consultations on Atol reform, which sought to modernise the scheme and strengthen consumer protection which bringing it in line with the EU’s Package Travel Directive (PTD).
The results of its October 2016 consultation were published the following February while the results of its four-week February 2018 consultation were issued last week.
In total, 30 stakeholders fed back to the DfT.
Following consultation with the industry, the government says it has made “minor” changes on four key strands of the Atol legislation:
The CAA, however, is still yet to publish its response to its own consultation on the Atol standard terms, while Abta says although the government has now published the feedback from its various consultation exercises, the exact regulations are still yet to be published.
Speaking at last month’s Barclays Travel Forum, Richard Moriarty, the CAA’s new chief executive, told delegates the CAA would not look to immediately sanction businesses failing to comply with the new PTRs, so long as they were able to demonstrate a plan of action to ensure compliance within a three-month window.
However, the industry has been warned this moratorium would only apply to aspects of the PTRs where enforcement falls under the CAA’s remit and not the wider regulations.
Stephen Mason, senior partner at Travlaw, told attendees at Abta’s recent Travel Law Seminar the Atol implications of the new PTRs constituted only “a tiny bit of the whole package travel scene” and warned businesses to ensure they are ready to meet the rest of the requirements of the PTRs.
The industry, meanwhile, is still awaiting guidance notes from the Department for Energy, Business and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), the other department handling implementation of the PTD, on the PTRs.
Simon Bunce, Abta’s director of legal affairs, said the guidance would likely be available by “mid-June”, two weeks before implementation.
A spokesman for BEIS told TTG while this timetable was broadly accurate, it remained “aspirational”.
The government’s response to the Atol consultation said respondents were “broadly supportive” of the new definitions of a package set out in the PTD and enshrined in the PTRs, albeit while calling for aspects to be redrafted to avoid ambiguity and loopholes.
“BEIS will be publishing guidance this summer, which will provide further clarity on terminology,” read the response.