Airlines urged to INCREASE flight fares after shock closures

PRICE HIKE: A travel association CEO has urged airlines to put a tax on flights

Flights may be about to get more expensive sooner than we thought after a major travel organisation has told airlines they should put up their prices.

Mark Tanzer, chief executive of the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) said a tax on every flight in the UK should be introduced so that passengers can be refunded if the airline collapses.

This tax would help to bring home stranded travellers if the airline went into administration – something that happened recently with Monarch collapsing overnight and leaving 110,000 Brits stranded overseas.

Speaking at an ABTA convention, he said billing the taxpayer for the recent repatriations was “completely unsatisfactory”.

This comes after thousands of passengers who had booked a flight on Monarch were left out of pocket as current ATOL regulations only offer refunds to those who booked a package holiday.

Mark said: “It is a complicated picture, but two things would help hugely: firstly, the CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) needs to be more transparent in its communications.

“Part of the ATOL Regulations stipulate that even if you sell only one ATOL protected package a year, you have to advertise yourself as ‘ATOL Protected’.”

He continued: “Only five per cent of Monarch’s passengers were travelling on Monarch package holidays, yet to the outside world Monarch was an ‘ATOL Protected’ company… this really does matter when you have 110,000 people overseas and another 700,000 yet to travel.

“The second point that needs to be addressed is the situation regarding customers who simply purchased a Monarch flight as a scheduled airline ticket. There is no repatriation scheme for these customers.”

He argued that the government decided to offer repatriation to Monarch customers – which will lump the tax payer with a large bill.

The CEO explained: “Either the government sticks to the position that if you’re unprotected you’re on your own – which requires an honest communication campaign with members of the public – or they decide on principle to bring home stranded passengers, in which case they need to have a fighting fund raised by a levy on all airlines.”

Meanwhile, with news yesterday that Air Berlin – Europe’ 10th biggest airline – had ceased trading, experts believe that flight prices will rise as larger low-cost airlines take monopoly of the skies. – The Star

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