Published on Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A hundred travel firms investigated for illegal trading

Around 100 companies have been investigated by the Civil Aviation Authority which is concerned many travel businesses may still be flouting the law by trading without an ATOL.

It told TravelMole today that a third of the investigations are still ongoing. Only two - Diving World and Russian Gateway UK Ltd - have resulted in CAA prosecutions. Three resulted in successful prosecutions by trading standards.

The CAA said many of its investigations were based on information provided by consumers or those within the industry. Last year it introduced a hotline for whistleblowers who believe their own bosses may be trading illegally.

"More people do seem to be approaching us with information or requests for us to take action, which we put down to consumers, industry and our partners being engaged with ATOL and more aware of the scheme, and thus coming to us more," said a spokesman.

The CAA launched a public-awareness campaign last December, backed by a dedicated website to make customers more aware of the protection offered by ATOL.

However, companies that are trading within the law expressed frustration that so far there have been few prosecutions against businesses trading without an ATOL since the CAA introduced new Flight Plus legislation last year.

General manager of Jason Patterson said he was frustrated that one of his rivals - Your Vegas Wedding (also trading as Jimmy Vegas) - was being allowed to trade without an ATOL, despite the CAA being made aware of the fact.

Your Vegas Wedding* advertises flight-inclusive wedding packages to Las Vegas on its website but makes no mention of any financial protection and it does not appear to have an ATOL number.

The CAA spokesman said: "We are aware of (Your Vegas Wedding) and have been in touch with someone who has raised concerns with us about the way they are doing business.

"We are currently considering the situation and how they operate before deciding what action (if any) is appropriate to take."

TravelMole tried to contact the company for an explanation but the telephone number on its website is not registered and it has not responded to electronic communication.

Patterson said: ""The self-policing that the CAA is encouraging via its "report a suspect telephone lines" is all well and good, but what of the agencies that flout the law and the governing bodies by simply trading without protection and also the impact (this has) on a reputable business?"

Last November, London-based Diving World became the first business to be fined for breaching ATOL regulations following the introduction of Flight Plus. At the time, the CAA said it was looking into about 20 other companies.

A CAA spokesman said it would consider prosecution when a company failed to co-operate, however in by far the majority of cases the company does co-operate and satisfies the CAA that it is compliant with ATOL regulations.

* Since this story was published, yourvegaswedding has joined Midcounties Co-operative Travel and will trade under its ATOL, see story


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  • Would Happen In The USA

    A review of the you can see it there is no reference to any protection, also no payment options via any online transact, My company works closely with various UK based wedding companies and we are well aware of the changing nature of your legislation, as his can reflect badly on ground handlers by way of association, Im surprised that considering this is something you have laws and guidelines on that you have so many like yourvegaswedding able to sell to the public and allowing such risk.

    By John Andrews, Monday, March 11, 2013

  • Non-ATOL Protected Bookings

    Firstly I agree with Justin Bond. Any business that cannot put their customer"s financial protection before their own pocket has some questionable customer service ethics. There are no excuses to avoid adhering to the Regulations when there are now more ways than ever to implement comprehensive yet affordable methods of financial protection to the consumer. As an industry we need to work together to ensure all companies adhere to the ATOL and/or Package Travel Regulations.

    By Kris Hall, Monday, March 11, 2013

  • Outrageous

    Surely it is straightforward...if you are not ATOL protected you should not be trading. It only mentions 3 in this article Your Vegas Weddings, Diving World and Russian Gateway but why not publish them all so everyone knows to avoid companies like this.

    By Justin Bond, Friday, March 8, 2013

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