Tuesday, October 17, 2017
   
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Call for £1 Levy on Air Fares to Support Monarch Passengers

An influential travel organisation is calling for an immediate levy on all air fares to provide financial aid for passengers hit by the Monarch collapse.

The Independent Tour operators' Association wants a £1 levy imposed on all airfares and has criticised the Government for having failed to introduce such support as a levy in the past.

Chairman Derek Moore said the levy, first proposed by the Civil Aviation Authority to the government in 2005, should apply to both scheduled and charter flights.

He also criticised the Government's decision to step in and repatriate all 110,000 Monarch customers who were abroad at the time of the company's collapse, even though only a small percentage were covered by the firm's ATOL, without consulting those tour operators who it expects to share the cost.

Around half of AITO's tour operator members have been hit by Monarch's collapse, and while he said the government's effort to repatriate their clients was 'impressive', he said it had 'ridden roughshod' over them.

Transport secretary Chris Grayling is hoping that credit card companies will also share the £60 million repatriation bill along with travel companies and the taxpayer, but in a statement, Derek Moore said: "Did the Government liaise with any of the trade bodies which could have advised it on this matter? Or did it simply dive in and sign a cheque for £65 million, which the taxpayer, the travel industry and the credit card suppliers will be expected to foot?

"The travel industry faces challenges day in, day out - from ATC strikes to ferry strikes, from hurricanes to situations such as the ash cloud, plus geopolitical challenges and terrorism; it is well versed in coping with adversity, and often its clients are unaware that there was ever a problem. Our advice is practical and pragmatic, and we are disappointed that Government seemingly chose not to involve us in finding a better solution to the Monarch problem."

He also hit out at the Government for having failed to protect passengers booking scheduled airline seats while at the same time insisting that tour operators comply with the ATOL system, which he said it had chosen to 'override and ignore' following Monarch's collapse.

"It's a very uneven playing field - airlines and tour operators are treated in a totally different manner - and we in the industry are rightly annoyed that the Government has ridden roughshod over us to repatriate people whom it failed to protect via scheduled airline legislation, as was suggested 12 years ago."

He went on: "We urge the Government to act now to implement the simple £1 levy solution on all outbound flights.

It should immediately extend ATOL to cover scheduled seats following this debacle, because the ATOL system simply doesn't now cover enough of the travelling public; speed is of the essence to redress the years that it has wasted since 2005, falsely believing that airlines aren't going to go out of business.

"All outbound flight sales should immediately include £1 per seat, whether scheduled or chartered, to deliver full financial protection and repatriation for all. It's a commonsense measure; let's hope commonsense prevails."

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