04 June 2014 at 07.35 GMT
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said it is committed to ensuring there is a level playing field for all Atol-accredited bodies following criticism that Thomas Cook’s Freedom group continues to operate without a trust account.
Travel Counsellors chairman David Speakman described it as “outrageous” that Freedom had not hit the deadline of May 1.
However, a bond is believed to have been obtained as a temporary measure. Industry sources estimated the provision could cost as much as £500,000 over the course of a year.
Last week an internal memo to Freedom members stated that Thomas Cook was committed to the consortium’s future, ending speculation of an imminent trade sale. Head of Freedom Kelly Cookes said on Tuesday: “We are making solid progress to put a trust account in place. Testing is being done and we hope to be able to announce a live date very soon.”
The email prompted other accredited bodies, all of which met the deadline to have trusts in place, to demand the CAA ensures Freedom falls into line.
CAA head of Atol Andy Cohen said he understood their frustrations, but that there was an interim agreement with Cook.
“We are committed to having a level playing field across all accredited bodies,” he said. “At present we are satisfied that we are achieving that in the short term.”
Speakman said: “It has run out of time. It’s unfair and outrageous.”
Julia Lo Bue-Said, managing director of Advantage Travel Partnership, said: “We want a level playing field and there has to be a timescale in which absolutely everybody has to commit.”
Gary Lewis, managing director of Travel Network Group, said: “There has to be a point where the CAA says enough is enough.”
Sourced from Travel Weekly