The CAA’s new chief executive has admitted “there may come a point” where the government decides to reduce the Atol Protection Contribution (APC) – but it’s unlikely to be in the near future.
In his first interview since starting in his new role, Richard Moriarty told delegates at the Barclays Travel Forum last week that the Air Travel Trust Fund (ATTF), which now totals £145 million, was “a modest sum”.
Asked about reducing the APC, which is currently set at £2.50 and is paid by customers taking Atol protected holidays, Moriarty replied: “There’s no discussion with government at the moment about reducing the APC. Most of the conversations we’re having with the government at the moment are about the Airline Insolvency Review – that’s very much where our focus is.
“My expectation is that the government will wish to see a situation where the ATTF can cover pretty much all of the risk of a tour operator failure so tax payers aren’t on the hook. At what point that is, is probably not where we are at the moment - £145 million. But there may come a point where the fund gets to a scale where [reducing it] becomes the right thing to do.”
Questioned as to what total the fund would need to reach for this to happen, Moriarty admitted: “I don’t know off the top of my head. But I know that we’re not at the point yet where all those risks are covered for us to say to the government to reduce the APC.”
Elsewhere Moriarty said the CAA was continuing its investigation into allocated seating policies on airlines, and that it may look to publish a list of the worst offenders.
“That tends to be our practice,” he said. “We do tend to name and shame. I prefer to be in the position where we talk to airlines first, but if we are in a position that we can’t agree with an airline then we will call them out.”
Moriarty also said the CAA was looking into “whether certain airlines terms and conditions are fair”. He referenced a survey carried out by the CAA which highlighted that 40% of consumers questioned said they don’t read the terms and conditions of an airline, and 30% of those that do, said they didn’t understand them.
Meanwhile, on airport expansion Moriarty said he was optimistic, insisting that the UK was now “further down the road than we’ve ever been” with regards to building an additional runway at Heathrow.
“I do know that the government is very keen to take a vote,” he said, adding that if the government “maintains its timetable, then in terms of rubber hitting the tarmac, the sort of dates being talked about are 2026”.