FTO hits out at UK government

The Federation of Tour Operators has launched an attack on the UK government for failing to offer greater consumer protection to travellers when airlines go bankrupt.It argues that airline customers need the same protection as those of tour operators, given the blurred distinction between a package and separate air and hotel booking.

The federation cited the Silverjet collapse, where many customers face applying as unsecured creditors to the airline’s adminstrator, while others who booked flights as part of a package will be protected.

In April this year the £1 per passenger Air Travel Organisors’ Licensing Protection Contribution arrangements began as a financial contribution used to pay for repatriation costs and refunds from the Air Travel Trust Fund for customers of any failed tour operator.

The FTO says it argued strongly at the same that the scheme should be widened to include airlines customers, but that this measure was rejected by the Government following strong lobbying by some airlines.

Andrew Cooper, Director General of the Federation of Tour Operators, says: “I suspect one reason why this logical extension of customer protection has been blocked is the lingering legacy of old-style state-owned, national carrier airlines which sowed a mentality of bogus nationalism and the now quite erroneous belief that airlines don’t go bust. It is high time that our government and regulator urgently put in place proper protection for citizens and also set tour operators a level runway to ensure fair competition. Stranded families and financially disadvantaged travellers will neither forgive nor forget a government which waited for a major airline collapse before acting.”