Protection from Airline Bankruptcy

By | Category: Travel rumblings

From tomorrow, 1st November, EU regulations come into place banning hiding taxes and extra charges when they advertise their flights. Theorectically if a flight is advertised at £1 that is what it should cost you. In practice I suspect that won’t happen due to choices that you will have to opt-out of such as priority boarding, insurance as well as charges for using debit or credit cards. But it should include the appropriate taxes so unless there is a sale on, you probably won’t see many prices under about £20 each way.
There are some other benefits from the new rules. Airlines must charge the same price country by country so a ticket in Spain should cost the same in the UK or Ireland. How they handle changing currency exchange rates between the £ and the € or other non-euro currencies in the EU will be interesting to watch.
And airlines will have to give the EU authorities more details about the finances supposedly so the EU can revoke an airlines licence to fly if they think they may not survive.
About 30 airlines have gone bust this year ( but it is nice to record that LTE is to resume flights from Norwich later this year) and there is nothing tangible in place to protect bookers unless they pay by a credit card. If you book a package holiday and provided the tour operator is ATOL bonded you can get a refund. If you separately book the flight and the accommodation you are not covered unless you use a credit card.
The Air Transport Users Council (AUC), an independent body that looks after the interests of airline passengers, has suggested to the Transport Minister that all airline passengers pay a flat fee for each flight to build a fund that will repay passengers in the event that an airline goes bust. The ATOL levies a fee of £1 per holiday. A similar fee per flight would probably be acceptable to airline passengers if it gave them protection. The airlines would, I imagine, collect the fee as part of all the other charges they collect and remit to the protection body.
This idea seems long overdue to me and the sooner the government and the EU adopt the proposals of the AUC the better.

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