New Forest

ATOL regulations reform prompts preparation for new CAA reporting requirements

The countdown to a major shift in ATOL regulations has begun and ATOL holders are being urged to prepare now for the 1 July deadline.

A long-awaited consultation by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), modernising ATOL, closed for comment on 23 March and feedback on a wide range of reforms is still being reviewed. It comes as a revised EU directive on package travel came into force in 2015 and the UK is required to implement and bring into force UK regulations to give effect to the Directive by 1 July 2018.

Given the tight timescale on implementing revised ATOL regulations, the CAA has indicated that travel firms will not face immediate enforcement action on 1 July for non-compliance with any of the intended changes. However, it is urging firms to take appropriate steps to be able to implement the intended licence changes.

A key proposed change is to the ATOL Standard Term 4 – namely the reporting of business and financial information to the CAA. The CAA has proposed to make it more “principles based”, which will require ATOL holders to advise the regulator of any information the CAA should reasonably expect to know, including any event that is likely to have a material impact on the financial resources or the operation of the ATOL holder.

The new CAA standard terms will also require Small Business ATOL (SBA) holders to report on the number of licensable passengers, and revenue and booking data quarterly instead of annually, in line with a majority of Standard ATOL holders. The CAA suggests this will tackle the problem of unidentified over trading during the year.

James Flood, who specialises in the travel industry, said: “The ATOL protection scheme is now more than four decades old and during that time the travel industry has changed significantly with the advent of digital technology. Therefore, modernisation reforms were always on the cards and it is now up to the travel industry to adapt to these changes.

“The timescale for any implementation is very tight, but I would urge ATOL holders to start putting measures in place to be able to achieve compliance once the new regulations become enforceable. The starting point for this is having a broad understanding of the new reporting requirements and we can help guide ATOL holders through the compliance process, giving them peace of mind and assurances on the information they supply to the CAA.”

HWB has a renowned pedigree as a leading travel industry specialist and its team are members of the ATOL Reporting Accountants’ Scheme (ARA) and approved under the ICAEW Licensed Practice Scheme by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

The scheme ensures accountants reporting on behalf of ATOL members have the necessary specialist knowledge of the travel sector and ATOL regulations, as well as the specific requirements of membership.

For more information on ATOL regulatory changes, or for an informal discussion on HWB’s services for businesses in the travel industry, please contact James Flood on 023 8046 1244.

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