Monarch and Ryanair failures Raise Awareness of Consumer Protection
Nine out of ten Brits recognise the importance of their holiday being financially protected following the failure of Monarch and Ryanair’s mass cancelations of flights, according to research by World Travel Market London, released Monday 6 November.
The World Travel Market London 2017 Industry Report, released at WTM London today, also revealed that less than one in ten holidaymakers (9%) were unaware of ABTA and ATOL logos, compared to a massive 70% who actively look for the symbols for reassurance when booking a break.
This importance of protection stems from the recent high-profile collapses of well-known airlines and tour operator groups along with terrorist incidents overseas – all of which raising awareness of financial protection, and the potential consequences of not being protected.
The collapse of Monarch Airlines last month hit the national headlines as the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) had 110,000 people to rescue and bring back to the UK on specially chartered planes. While 300,000 forward booking were cancelled.
Monarch stopped offering Air Travel Organiser’s Licence (ATOL) cover, which protects customers should their travel company go bust, on flight-only bookings from the UK in December last year, less than two months after it was on the verge of a previous collapse.
However, the ATOL protection remained on package holidays purchased through Monarch, making it ever more important for consumers to check and read the small print for those important protection logos.
This follows Ryanair cancelling 18,000 flights, affecting almost 400,000 passengers between November 2017 and March 2018, after suffering a shortage of pilots able to work. Also not ATOL protected and leaving many out of pocket.
The WTM London research echoes findings from ABTA about the increased awareness of protection among consumers after the flurry of failures.
The travel association said in September that 74% of people recognise the ABTA logo, representing an increase of 1% from 2016.
Victoria Bacon, ABTA Director of Brand and Business Development, said: “During a period when online holiday fraud has increased, and when high-profile global events have thrown a spotlight on the industry, it is clear that the confidence that the ABTA badge brings, and the consumer advice and support that we are able to provide on behalf of our members are more important than ever.”
However, even with the increasing travel company failures in recent times, the CAA have reported that the number of ATOL protected bookings was marginally down for 2016 following five years of steady growth, with 24.9 million holidaymakers protected by the ATOL scheme last year, down from 25.2 million in 2015.
According to an independent YouGov poll for foreign currency provider First Rate, almost three-quarters of respondents (72%) think ATOL protection is important. The poll also found that ATOL is a priority for 79% of those aged 55 and over, while only 55% of those aged 18 to 24 agree that holiday protection is important.
WTM London’s Paul Nelson, said: “With all the recent media attention regarding financial failures and turmoil amongst well respected travel companies, increasing awareness has been put on consumer protection and this should encourage consumers to do their research and really look at the protection that is available to them.
“The problems faced by the likes of Monarch and Ryanair customers, shows how the UK leads the way in Europe on travel consumer protection, with ATOL protecting package holidays and flight-plus.
“There is still an emphasis from the trade for the government to get together with the CAA, ABTA and other industry bodies to look again at consumer protection for UK holidaymakers, especially when companies are based offshore or are beyond the scope of regulation, including companies in the sharing economy such as Airbnb.”
eTN is a media partner for WTM.