Letter: Secure travel industry needs government monitoring

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The Independent Online
Sir: Your leading article (28 July), in its assertions of insufficient information and inadequate regulation, goes from the particular (Land Travel) to the general without a convincing chain of logic. So far as charter holidays by air are concerned, there is a legal obligation for companies in this business to hold an Air Travel Organiser's Licence (Atol) and for them to state in their brochures that they have one. Leaflets published by, among others, the Civil Aviation Authority, make clear what this means in terms of protecting passengers from the effects of financial failure.

Thus for charter holidays by air - and these constitute the greater part of the market - the EC directive on package travel is already fully implemented and passengers travelling with a company under a CAA-issued Atol need have no fear of being stranded abroad or of financial loss due to that company's failure. As you report, the customers of the failed Bob Warren Travel Service are having repatriation arranged or full refunds without any additional cost to themselves.

The CAA, while ensuring that this protection exists, does not attempt to regulate competition between Atol holders. The vigour of this condition is one of the best forms of protection that the holidaymaker can have but, because of the Atol system, it is not at the expense of his rights if the travel company fails financially.

Yours faithfully,

CHRISTOPHER CHATAWAY

Chairman

CAA: Civil Aviation Authority

London, WC2

28 July

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