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ABTA threatens government with legal action

ABTA reiterates its calls for adequate financial support as it issues ‘letter before claim’

ABTA is considering judicial review action to challenge the adequacy of the UK government’s financial support for the UK travel sector during the pandemic.

Its solicitors have today sent the government a ‘letter before claim’ advising of ABTA’s intentions. The letter is a requirement for judicial review proceedings and identifies legal issues in dispute.

The move comes after the announcement of a very limited restart of international travel by the government, meaning that the recovery of the travel sector is likely to be pushed back further.

ABTA is specifically challenging the level of financial support given to the UK travel sector including by way of restart grants in comparison with other economic sectors such as hospitality and personal care, which have secured higher levels of funding despite having more certainty of income.  Its solicitors argue that the government “arbitrarily and unlawfully” failed to differentiate between the UK travel sector and other non-essential retail businesses when providing financial assistance.

ABTA’s letter before claim argues that the government has unlawfully failed to take account of relevant considerations during the decision-making process regarding financial support packages and failed to undertake economic impact assessments to assess the effect of ongoing restrictions on the UK travel sector.

“We would far rather that adequate financial support for the sector could be given without the need to turn to legal action,” says Mark Tanzer, ABTA’s chief executive. “This letter asks for a formal government response within the next two weeks. If we can’t resolve this issue by then, we may be compelled to issue legal proceedings.”

Last Friday, in the wake of the announcement of a limited restart of overseas travel, ABTA reiterated its calls for adequate financial support for the sector in recognition that the sector’s recovery would likely be further delayed.  It also called for more countries to be opened up, using the traffic light system to manage risk, at the next review of traffic light countries due in early June.