The United Kingdom Supreme Court has refused to hear a Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) appeal in the case against Travel Republic – potentially leaving consumers exposed to increased risk in the event of a tour operator.
The case was designed to clarify for the travel industry the definition of a package holiday.
The CAA argues whenever a customer booked a flight and another element of a holiday at the same time this constitutes a package holiday.
Under such circumstances a potential passenger would then be would be protected by ATOL should their operator cease trading.
At present ATOL schemes only cover complete holidays booked through an agent. However, the CAA would like to see it expanded, largely to those who compose separate elements of a trip online.
CAA director of consumer protection, Richard Jackson, explained: “Over the past year we have been working with the department for transport on proposals to reform the ATOL scheme, and we very much welcome the secretary of state’s recent statement he sees the need for reform.
“Unfortunately, today’s decision means that much-needed clarity will now not be provided through the courts, making it more urgent to push ahead to reform the scheme, ensuring that people receive the protection they expect, and often incorrectly believe they are receiving.”
In response to the development, the CAA is calling for the government to introduce the proposed Flight Plus scheme, in order to restore financial protection to consumers who may wrongly believe they are currently protected.
Currently, because of the radical changes over the past decade to the way the travel industry operates, that is not always the case.
Recent failures - including that of Goldtrail only a fortnight ago - have highlighted the widespread confusion among the travelling public and the travel industry about when they are, and are not, protected by ATOL.