The Irish Travel Agents Association has called for an overhaul of the bonding system to protect consumers following the collapse of Britain’s Monarch Airlines.
The ITAA said it is concerned over the lack of bonding among Irish travel providers following the collapse of the carrier, resulting in Britain’s biggest peacetime repatriation operation. A £60m operation by Britain’s Civil Aviation Authority to bring 110,000 customers home on specially chartered planes.
Cormac Meehan, President of the ITAA, said: “The ITAA have been pushing for a collective bond among all travel agents, tour operators and airlines. We have contacted the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport many times about this issue as it will be the Irish taxpayer who will have to pay if there was to be another travel provider collapse in Ireland. This area must be reviewed immediately to ensure the protection of Irish consumers.”
As Monarch’s collapse marks the third airline failure this year in Europe, following Alitalia and Air Berlin, Irish travel agents are expressing their concern over the lack of bonding among all travel providers by the Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR).
Pat Dawson, CEO of the ITAA, added: “Monarch was not bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority so it is up to the UK’s Department of Transport and ultimately the taxpayer to pick up the bill. As airlines are among the largest travel providers in Ireland, we believe it is necessary that they, along will all other travel providers, be bonded in order to protect Irish consumers. It is also important that the size of the bond should reflect the size of the company.”
The ITAA said it has repeatedly called on the Government to review the legislation around bonding among travel providers here. Following the collapse of Lowcostholidays last summer, almost 4,200 Irish customers made claims to the Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR) amounting to €3.8m.
The claims depleted the Travellers’ Protection Fund, which is made up of contributions from tour operators and administered by the commission, by 75pc as Lowcostholidays’ bonding level was underprovided. CAR has said that another such failure would be a serious threat to the system’s coffers.
Following the collapse of Monarch, tour operators, travel agents and credit card companies in Britain are being asked to foot some of the cost of bringing customers home.
And travel agent John Galligan, owner of John Galligan Travel, has argued that the smaller travel agents are being discriminated against. Taking to LinkedIn, he said: “While very small “Mom & Pop Shop” travel agents in Ireland are put to the pin of their collars to provide enormous bonds for consumers, the much larger… airlines (and foreign online agents and bed banks) do not have to offer any protection whatsoever.”
He claimed that there is “Irish Government-led discrimination against Irish companies”.