The Commission for Aviation Regulation updated its list of travel agency licences on 26th May, adding one new licence and one new trading name, and has published its annual report for 2013, which states that the Commission is continuing to investigate three reports of illegal trading.
New Licence Issued
Travel Solutions of Belfast Ltd, trading as Travel Solutions, has been issued with travel agency licence number 0738. The company’s address is 3 Hillsborough Business Park, Hillsborough Gardens, Belfast BT6 9UT, Northern Ireland, Tel: 028 9045 5030.
In addition, Club Travel (licence 0054) has had a new trading name listed: Tours4schools. This is in addition to the already existing Tours4students trading name.
Travel Trade Licensing
The Commission’s annual report includes the following on travel trade licencing:
“The CAR licensed 274 travel firms in 2013. This represented a net increase of one travel agent and an unchanged number of tour operators. Total licensed turnover was broadly static at €1.1 billion; more than 80% of this business accrued to travel agents. One licence holder went into administration during the year.
“To provide the CAR with the funds to make refunds and to organise repatriations when necessary, tour operators are required to obtain bonds equal to 10% of their projected licensable turnover; travel agents must do so at a rate of 4%. The table below gives the value of projected turnover and total bonding for 2013 and 2012. Licensable turnover excludes revenue from other business (e.g. domestic travel).
“Should the funds available from the bonds provided by tour operators and travel agents fail to cover the full costs of refunds and repatriations, the Travellers’ Protection Fund (TPF) is available to cover the shortfall. At end-2013, the balance in this account was just over €5 million.
Table 2.2: Projected Licensable Turnover (PLTO) and Total Bonding of Irish Travel Industry, 2012 and 2013
Licensed 2013 (€m) 2012 (€m)
Bond PLTO Bond PLTO
Tour Operators 18 184 20 200
Travel Agents 37 927 37 934
Total 55 1,111 57 1,134
“In April, a license holder based in the UK with an office in Cork, French Freedom Holidays, went into administration. The CAR subsequently received 12 claims totalling €11,140 and the bond held by the CAR was sufficient to cover all eligible claims.
“To monitor compliance with licence conditions, each year we visit the business premises of a sample of licence holders; 31 premises were visited in 2013 and the travel companies in question were found to be keeping the necessary records and to be otherwise compliant.
“We investigated four reports of unlicensed trading. In one case, no illegality was found. The other investigations continue.
“The timeliness of the CAR’s work is summarised by indicators that we record each year and report in the appendix to this report. At a certain point in travel trade licensing work, we issue a letter advising applicants to seek a bond; we call this a decision-in-principle letter. We aim to issue such letters within one month of receipt of applications. In order to improve performance in this area on the previous year’s outcome, there was a deterioration in the pace at which we notified parties of an application being incomplete. Ultimately nearly all (92%) applicants received a licence within two weeks of evidence of a bond being received.
“The final report of the liquidator of Fáilte Travel Ltd was provided to the High Court in April 2013. It noted a deficit in the company’s affairs of €2.96 million. In July, the Liquidator applied to have the company dissolved and this order was granted. Previously, the High Court had ordered that both directors of the company be restricted from acting as a director or secretary of a company for a period of five years from 23 April 2012.
Licensing and Approvals
“In 2010 the CAR had been awarded its costs arising from two legal actions commenced by Budget Travel. In August 2013 the CAR received €28,840 representing an interim distribution of 40% of its approved claim. The Liquidator hopes to make a final distribution to approved creditors following the resolution of outstanding matters. Ongoing legal proceedings in the travel trade area involving the CAR are described in the chapter on Administration and Legal Functions below.
“The licensing and bonding scheme for the travel industry derives from the Transport (Tour Operators and Travel Agents) Act 1982. This regime applies to all travel agents and tour operators selling travel out of Ireland including those based elsewhere in the European Union. Following its investigation of a complaint, the European Commission announced in September 2013 that it considers the application of the licensing regime to package providers from other Member States to represent a barrier to the free movement of services in the EU, as required under the Services Directive. In response, the Government may modify the 1982 Act, and if the CAR becomes aware of amendments, we in turn will inform the industry and proceed to implement any changes.
“Also at European Union level, discussions are underway regarding updating the package travel rules. In Ireland, these rules are the responsibility of the National Consumer Agency. Nonetheless, there may be implications for the travel trade and if so the CAR will seek to communicate these developments to the industry.”