Atol protection costs £14.7m after 19 failures

Almost twice as many Atol-protected companies went bust in the last year, increasing reliance on the fund used to help holidaymakers.

Refunds and repatriation for more than 16,500 Atol-protected holidaymakers cost the Air Travel Trust a total of £14.7 million in the last financial year.

The CAA-administered organisation said that a total of 19 Atol holders ceased trading between April 2016 and March, an increase from 10 the previous year.

The biggest trading casualty in the period was All Leisure Holidays, which is expected to cost the Trust £10 million after the fly-cruise specialist went insolvent in January. All Leisure’s collapse ended a relatively long run of years where the Trust saw a low-level of failure expenditure.

Fund surplus

In total, 282 passengers of failed Atol holders required repatriation and a further 16,608 customers, all with bookings to travel at a later date, were due refunds for amounts paid in respect of their bookings.

The Trust is principally funded by Atol protection contributions of £2.50 per passenger booked, which in the last financial year amounted to £62.3 million. This also resulted in an overall surplus for the fifth consecutive year, with a total of £145 million recorded in 2016/17.

The number of Atol-protected bookings was marginally down in the period, following five years of steady growth. There were 24.9 million holidaymakers protected by the Atol scheme last year, down from 25.2 million the year before.

New digital entrants

The Trust’s annual report noted the impact on the wider travel market of technology companies such as Google, Airbnb and TripAdvisor as they continue to enhance their travel offering.

It said: “These businesses do not sell air travel directly, nor do they sell packages, but in some instances are moving into a travel agency or facilitation role.

“If these new developments continue, changes in how consumers buy holidays could impact the existing licensed and protected sector.”