Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) (ATOL)

  • By law, every UK travel company which sells travel including flights and flights only, is required to hold an ATOL, which stands for Air Travel Organiser’s Licence. If a travel organiser with an ATOL ceases trading, the ATOL scheme protects customers who had booked holidays with the firm. It ensures they do not get stranded abroad or lose money. The scheme is designed to reassure consumers that their money is safe, and will provide assistance in the event of a travel company failure.

    ATOL was first introduced in 1973, as the popularity of overseas holidays grew. After a number of travel company failures left people stranded, the UK Government realised consumers required holiday protection should firms in the unregulated travel sector fall into difficulties.

    The scheme was designed to cover charter flights and package holidays, and functioned well for years. However, the holiday market has changed considerably and a rise in online booking and low cost airlines means many people now book the components of their holidays separately.

    As a result, changes were made to the ATOL scheme in April 2012. It now covers all overseas air holidays where a flight and accommodation have been booked together. It also covers some flights booked separately, and applies in some other circumstances too.

    The CAA has recently updated its terms and conditions for ATOL compliance and a link to the new CAA OSR3 can be found here.

    The CAA has also published guidance following their consultation on the PTRS and this can be found here.

    ABTOT also now has an ATOL franchise with the CAA, which opens the door to cover for both licensable (flight-inclusive) and non-licensable (non-flight) turnover. Benefits include:

    • Single point of contact – which means you generally don’t need to liaise with both the CAA and ABTOT;
    • Simple and straightforward process;
    • Discounted APC payments;
    • Discounted ATOL fee;
    • No additional financial criteria test with the CAA;
    • No additional ATOL application form to complete.
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