The recession has had a big impact on certain areas of the tourist industry. Whilst some destinations, such as Turkey, Australia and the UK are set for more British visitors this summer, other popular areas within the Eurozone are also set to be far quieter than they have been used to for some time. As a consequence, the aviation industry is also likely to be affected in a negative way – but where does this leave us consumers?

According to an article by Chris Cuddy at travolution.co.uk, “passenger numbers are already considerably lower than a year ago,” and the International Air Transport Association have officially predicted that airlines will lose $4.7 billion dollars this year, after losing $8.5 last year. Paul Mclean, of International Passenger Protection, stated at moneywise.co.uk that “the travel industry is facing some of the worst losses in aviation history,” and highlighted that 30 airlines have failed financially in the last 12 months.

Cuddy goes on to call for government intervention to help ease the suffering of the airlines, or at the very least for communication between the industry and Labour to become something of a two way conversation again. He states: “The UK should follow the Dutch Government’s lead in deciding to abandon its flights tax,” and warns against the introduction of the e-Borders scheme.

The e-Borders scheme has been tagged Orwellian by critics and involves cross-referencing personal information of almost all individuals travelling in and out of Britain against a list of suspects. The Manx government have already forced a u-turn on the plans for implementing the scheme between the Isle of Man and Britain.

Despite the projected lack of airline customers and the government’s refusal to help the aviation industry, additional factors such as the decrease in fuel price (down over 60 percent since last year) for aircraft may well benefit British tourists and their travel money in 2009. Heightened competition between airlines in order to fill seats is likely to mean that customers will find an abundance of last minute deals in the holiday season.

However, Mclean goes on to point out that: “If you don’t fancy being a victim of a grounded airline, make sure you book a flight or package holiday through a tour operator licensed by the Air Travel Organisers’ Licensing (ATOL) scheme.” Yet airlines themselves are not covered by ATOL and so tickets should be purchased by credit card (and must be over £100) if you want to be covered by Section 75 Protection.

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