TUI has welcomed the CAA's determination to seek funds from agents who have illegally sold packages without ATOL protection.
In a statement issued on Friday, the CAA said it will take action against agents who illegally sold accommodation and other travel-related services packaged with flights by failed operators Freedom Flights and Pure Flights (see previous stories).
Dermont Blastland, managing director TUI UK and Ireland, said: "We desperately need an environment for customers so that when they book holidays they can be 100% certain whether they are protected or not.
"We continue to urge the Government to undertake a fundamental review and overhaul of this area of regulation for the benefit of the British public and the industry as a whole."
ABTA said: "We wholeheartedly support the CAA in their action against companies illegally organising package holidays as we agree that any agent who sells a package should have in place proper financial protection."
Chief executive Mark Tanzer said: -¬---We do however, remain concerned that the lack of transparency makes it difficult for the travel industry and its customers to understand and we urge the government again to review this complex issue.-¬~
Meanwhile, the Travel Trust Association said it applauded the CAA for its decisive action in starting legal proceedings against those who "have tried to make a mockery of the ATOL system".
Simon Hargreaves, TTA's managing director, said: "For too long we have seen companies avoid providing proper customer protection.
"We applaud the CAA for taking action against those that they believe have broken the law and we hope this will deter others from trying to devalue the system."
Association of Independent Tour Operators chairman Derek Moore said: -¬---It-¬™s good to see that the CAA is upholding the integrity of ATOL arrangements, which protect consumers who book flights and flight-inclusive packages.
-¬---The CAA is scrutinising individually all bookings made by agents with Freedom Flights and Pure Flights in conjunction with accommodation.
-¬---The CAA-¬™s aim is to ensure that the paperwork relating to these bookings is correct.
-¬---Bona fide companies such as AITO members should not have to pay out twice because some companies have been operating outside the rules, and it-¬™s good to see that the CAA is tackling the situation robustly and is seeking to set a legal precedent.-¬~
AITO members offer full financial protection for consumers, many via the ATOL system.
Moore said: -¬---However, the key issue here is one which Government has refused to face thus far.
-¬---The Government needs to simplify the travel industry regulations and to ensure that one rule -" 100% financial protection for consumers -" is applicable to all.
-¬---AITO and other industry bodies have been asking Government to do this for the past several years.
-¬---We hope that, post the XL collapse in September, when several hundred thousand consumers were affected, the Government feels that the time is, at last, right to do so.-¬~
by Bev Fearis
Monday, December 15, 2008