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ATOL travel scheme to be reformed

More DIY holidaymakers could find their trips covered in the case of their tour operator collapsing after the Government announced a review of the current protection scheme.

The rise in do-it-yourself internet bookings has led to some tourists on packages involving flights not being covered by the Air Travel Organisers' Licensing scheme.

Depending on the method of payment used, some flight-only passengers are also not financially protected if their airline goes out of business when they are abroad.

Transport Secretary Lord Adonis yesterday announced a 12-week consultation to reform the ATOL scheme which is run by the Civil Aviation Authority.

The Government wants consumers and the travel trade to be quite clear about who is covered, with plans to ensure that ATOL protection includes all sales of a flight which has a package element attached.

The proposals also include options to clarify the financial protection of flight-only sales by parties other than an airline so as to either include or exclude them from the ATOL scheme.

Lord Adonis said: "The ATOL scheme has remained a source of reassurance for travellers since it was drawn up in the 1970s. However, since that time, there have been big changes to travel patterns. The concept of a package holiday has become blurred, as many holidays are now sold through mix-and-match components.

The CAA said: "We believe it is right that anything that appears to the consumer to be a package holiday when booked is covered by ATOL and that people are clear that this is the case."