The Irish Travel Agents Association has expressed strong concern over the lack of bonding among Irish travel providers, following the collapse of the UK’s Monarch Airlines on Monday, which has resulted in the UK’s biggest peacetime repatriation operation. A £60 million operation by the Civil Aviation Authority is currently underway in the UK to bring 110,000 customers home on specially chartered aircraft.
As Monarch’s collapse marks the third airline failure this year in Europe, following Alitalia and Air Berlin, the ITAA is expressing its concern over the lack of bonding among all travel providers by the Commission for Aviation Regulation.
Pat Dawson, ITAA Chief Executive, said: “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 with 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 has repeatedly called on the Government to review the legislation around bonding among travel providers in Ireland. Following the collapse of Lowcostholidays last summer, almost 4,200 Irish customers made claims to the Commission for Aviation Regulation amounting to €3.8 million. These claims depleted the Travellers’ Protection Fund, which is made up of contributions from tour operators and administered by the Commission, by 75% because Lowcostholidays’ bonding level was underprovided.
Following the collapse of Monarch, tour operators, travel agents and credit card companies in the UK are being asked to foot some of the cost of bringing customers home.
Cormac Meehan, ITAA President, 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.”