NEWS SPAA Dinner: President Joanne Dooey hosts 90th event. Ben Ireland reports from Glasgow

‘CAA should give Cook commission back to agents’


he Civil Aviation Authority should repay travel agents who lost out on commission

for bookings of Thomas Cook that never went ahead, says the president of the Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association. Cook went into liquidation in

September 2019, and the CAA has since spent more than £310 million on its largest-ever consumer compensation payout. By January 9, 320,000 customers – about 95% – had been refunded through Atol. Agents who had booked Thomas

Cook packages were asked to give their commission to the CAA. Joanne Dooey, the SPAA’s first

Scottish female president, said: “This is not right. The work had been done and this commission should have stayed with the agent.” She added: “We shouldn’t have

To have done all that

work and get nothing is wrong. They should pay that [commission] back [to agents]

given that money back. My business has been affected and others have been hit worse than me. “The smaller, independent agents,

have really suffered.” Dooey, owner of three-branch

agency Love to Travel, added that, despite losing their commissions, many agents helped customers with refund forms at no cost. “We did what was right for our customers,” she added. “To have done all that work and get nothing is wrong. They should pay that [commission] back [to agents]. “They should look at the

‘APD should fund eco projects’: Dooey shifts SPAA’s tax stance

Joanne Dooey called on the government to ringfence revenue from APD to invest in greener flying in a “total review” of the tax. The SPAA president believes

different bands should be introduced to reward fuel-efficient aircraft and direct routes that produce less carbon. Dooey’s stance represents

a departure from the SPAA’s long-held view that APD should be abolished on domestic flights because services with connections

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at long-haul hubs such as Heathrow get taxed twice in its current guise. Dooey said: “Surely it is time

for a total review of APD. Perhaps reduced charges on newer, fuel- efficient aircraft could be reviewed along with further consideration for ‘lifeline’ and remote routes? “The money needs to be pumped

back into environmental projects. Why not give the money to help develop better, cleaner aircraft? APD has been sold as a green tax, but it isn’t a green tax at the moment.”

bookings that hadn’t travelled and had paid in full. In those instances, we [agents] are a creditor of Cook’s and we should get our fair share.” A CAA spokesman said it would

be “inappropriate” to use the Air Travel Trust Fund (ATTF) to pay commission, as Atol is a consumer protection scheme, while commission payments are commercial contracts between agents and suppliers. In her first speech as president, Dooey also criticised the CAA’s

repatriation of non-Atol-protected flight-only Thomas Cook customers. She called for the

recommendations of the Airline Insolvency Review – for a 50p levy on flight-only sales, to contribute to the ATTF alongside package operators’ £2.50 contribution – to be implemented. “Is it really rocket science for the

customer to pay some sort of levy when they fly regardless of whether it is a flight or holiday?”

‘Scotland needs routes to the Caribbean’

Scotland needs new direct air routes to Mexico and the Caribbean to replace former Thomas Cook services to the regions, according to Joanne Dooey. The SPAA president said

airlines and tour operators have a “great opportunity” to tap into demand from Glasgow and Edinburgh airports. A recent survey of SPAA

members found that 95% wanted to see a direct flight to Barbados from one of the Scottish airports. “There are gaps now in Mexico and the Caribbean,” said Dooey.

“It’s not just for holidays, but to feed cruises as well. It’s a great opportunity for an airline. There is a lot of demand [for Mexico and the Caribbean] in Scotland.”

SPAA president Joanne Dooey

PICTURE: Shutterstock

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