Airline passengers need protection
[11th June 2008]
The Federation of Tour Operators is calling for airline passengers to be protected in the same way as passengers who book package holidays.
At present airline passengers risk losing money and being stranded abroad if an airline fails. Customers of failed tour operators, on the other hand, are covered for refunds on their holiday and repatriation costs.
The FTO wants the £1 per passenger Air Travel Organisers Licensing Protection Contribution scheme to be extended to include airline customers. But in April its recommendation was rejected by the government following strong lobbying by some airlines.
Airlines are facing difficult times with high and rising jet fuel prices, a global economic downturn, ever fiercer competition from and between the no frills carriers, and rising airport security costs, says FTO director general, Andrew Cooper.
The FTO argues that events since April, with a number of airlines going bust, emphasise that airline customers now need comparable protection to customers of tour operators.
I suspect one reason why this logical extension of customer protection has been blocked is the lingering legacy of old-style state-owned, national carrier airlines which sowed a mentality of bogus nationalism and the now quite erroneous belief that airlines dont go bust, says Cooper.
It is high time that our government and regulator urgently put in place proper protection for citizens and also set tour operators a level runway to ensure fair competition. Stranded families and financially disadvantaged travellers will neither forgive nor forget a government which waited for a major airline collapse before acting, Cooper concludes.
Written by: Nick Purdom
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