Airtours faces ABTA investigation

Tour operator Airtours is facing a possible fine by trade body ABTA (Association of British Travel Agents) over misleading holidaymakers on prices in its brochures launched last week.

ABTA is investigating a complaint from rival tour operator Thomson that Airtours misrepresented the significance of Air Passenger Duty (APD) – the tax on passenger departures – in its summer 1998 brochure.

This is being increased on holidays taken after November and could add up to 80 to the cost of holiday for a family of four.

ABTA sources say it is industry policy for holiday companies to make it clear that the price in the brochure includes this tax – which Thomson does on its brochure pages.

Airtours, however, does not say on its brochure pages that the price includes the tax. Instead it includes reference to the tax in its flight supplement section and manipulates its flight supplements to make it appear that APD can be avoided.

ABTA sources say this puts Airtours in clear breach of the agreed code of conduct.

Airtours claims it is within the guidelines and says its approach makes clear how much tax is charged by the Government.

Airtours launched its 1998 holidays last week and denies misleading holidaymakers. “Consumers know how things work. They are not naive,” says Steve Endacott, sales and commercial director of Airtours.

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