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Airline watchdog calls for passenger protection  Oct 23, 2008

Britain’s airline passenger watchdog has renewed calls for an overhaul of the rules regarding financial protection for scheduled airline passengers.

The Air Transport Users Council (AUC) has written to transport secretary Geoff Hoon urging the Government to charge all passengers a flat fee to cover passengers against airline failures.

Currently, all holidaymakers who book their holidays with an ATOL-protected company pay an additional £1 which provides financial cover for all aspects of their holiday. But there is no such protection in place for passengers who book their accommodation and flights separately.

“We urge the Government to give detailed consideration to extending financial protection for air passengers,” said AUC chairman Tina Tietjen.

“A levy would cover passengers for reimbursement of monies and, for those already abroad, completion of holiday and return home.”

A poll this week by Telegraph Travel asking whether readers would be willing to pay £1 extra for their flights to be guaranteed protection indicated that the overwhelming majority of passengers – 90 per cent – support the idea.

The issue of financial protection has been in the spotlight since the high profile collapse of Zoom and XL Leisure. Both failures affected the plans of thousands of holidaymakers, with many unable to claim any compensation.

At least 25 airlines have ceased trading this year, with the latest – Spanish carrier LTE – suspending flights last week .

Meanwhile, Irish airline Aer Arann announced this week that it would be cutting up to 100 jobs, reducing services and is planning to lease four of its 13 aircraft to other carriers.

The global financial crisis has also seen a decline in passenger numbers at all seven of BAA’s UK airports.

Airline watchdog calls for passenger protection

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