Travel: Departures: Kicking the bucket

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The Independent Travel
A CRACKDOWN on bucket shops and the unlicensed trade in discounted scheduled air fares has been announced by the Civil Aviation Authority. Until now, CAA regulations offered no protection to purchasers of discounted scheduled tickets, yet guaranteed full cover to people buying cheap charter deals.

The CAA now intends to prosecute consolidators or agents who sell tickets without having the necessary Air Tour Organisers' Licence (Atol). Discounted air tickets are normally sold to the public by consolidators either direct or through sub-agents. Under the new guidelines, the CAA says that, unless airlines have authorised agents who take money on their behalf - and who will provide customers with a flight or a refund if an agent goes out of business before the ticket is issued - the sale must be covered by an Atol. Helen Simpson, the head of licensing and financing, says the CAA will assume that all consolidators will need to hold an Atol to cover sales to the public unless they can prove otherwise. 'All consolidators who do not hold Atols should now urgently consider if they need one.'