Abta bonding ‘lacks transparency’ Ian Taylor

Abta has been accused of “a lack of transparency” on bonding requirements as many members complete both Atol and Abta-bond renewals this month. The association denied the charge

by White Hart Associates head of travel and leisure Chris Photi, insisting most members had renewed bonds “without difficulty”. But it conceded it had toughened bond requirements for some businesses to cover the value of refund credit notes carried into next year. Photi urged Abta “to be more

transparent”, saying: “Abta has a published rule book which shows how bonding is calculated, but it’s

applying a different regime. It wants to increase bonds even though no insurer will increase capacity. That isn’t sustainable.” Speaking at Travel Weekly’s Future

of Travel Week online summit, Photi said: “One client whose Abta bond was £500,000 last year has been asked for a £1.5 million bond. Where are they going to get it? There is no desire on the part of the CAA or Abta to precipitate failure, but an intransigent approach will do that. “I understand why Abta wants

to do it, but I want a set of rules that clients and professionals like me can rely on and plan towards.” However, Abta director of

membership and financial services John de Vial insisted: “We’re seeing

One client whose Abta bond was £500k last year has been asked for £1.5m. Where are they going to get it?

the majority of members renew bonds without difficulty [and] members get increased bonds. There hasn’t been a meltdown of the market.” He conceded: “We’re applying

some different analysis in the current crisis, as is the CAA. None of us have previously seen this aggregation of value being carried forward as refund credit notes across everyone’s entire programme. It’s not covered by

normal calculations, so some things are being done differently.” De Vial said: “Our job is to ensure

members are compliant with the Package Travel Regulations [PTRs]. “Those require that we hold

sufficient security to ensure consumers can be refunded in full. Part of calculating sufficient security in the current situation is calculating the value of outstanding refunds and, in some cases, that is leading to additional bonds being required. “The system is built on each

participant being risk-assessed and covering the risks they represent. “In some cases, members are being asked to provide additional security

because there is additional risk.” i Future of Travel Week, back page

Covid clampdown melts hopes for winter-sun sales

Travel Weekly reporters

Industry hopes for a substantial winter travel market appeared to be dashed this week amid further Covid-19 restrictions in the UK. The UK’s coronavirus alert

level was upgraded from three to four, with pubs in England made to close at 10pm from Thursday and the country’s top medical officers warning of as many as 50,000 new Covid cases a day by mid-October if extra measures were not brought in. Tui reiterated calls for testing and regional corridors as it

6 24 SEPTEMBER 2020

announced it was trimming its winter programme by a further 20% to give a 40% year-on-year reduction. Ryanair slashed October capacity

to about 40% of 2019 levels, down from 50%, bringing it in line with easyJet. And British Airways chief Alex Cruz last week told MPs the UK flag-carrier flew only 187,000 passengers the previous week, compared with one million in the same period in 2019. Cruz said BA is operating 25%-30% of its schedule. Eurocontrol, the pan-European

civil aviation organisation, revised down its traffic forecasts for the next

Tenerife: the winter market is tipped to be ‘tough’

six months. It expects European air traffic to remain almost 60% down on 2019 at the end of the year. Director general Eamonn Brennan

said: “We’re going backwards. It’s worrying for the entire industry.” Speakers at Travel Weekly’s Future

of Travel Week summit urged travel sellers to target 2021 bookings. Alistair Rowland, Blue Bay Travel

chief executive and Abta chairman, said: “Pile into summer 2021 because demand is out there; that should be a key focus.”

Travel Counsellors launched a

campaign focusing on 2021 sales after its research found consumer confidence to travel was 60% higher for trips in 2021 than 2020. UK managing director Kirsten Hughes said: “We have all resigned ourselves to the fact winter is going to be tough until there’s sight of a vaccine.” Hays Travel owners John and

Irene Hays said “it’s very difficult to be optimistic about the autumn”, but

said 2021 bookings were “excellent”. i Future of Travel Week, page 10

PICTURE: Shutterstock

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