Q&A: Kiss Flights collapse

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Travellers at airport departures board
Image caption,
Kiss customers have been told they will get their money back

The collapse of British flights company Kiss has left thousands of holidaymakers requiring flights home from abroad.

Who are Kiss?

It is London-based travel company Flight Options Limited, trading principally as Kiss Flights. It sold charter flights to Mediterranean destinations, mainly through travel agents.

How many people are affected?

The Civil Aviation Association (CAA) estimates that about 13,000 people are currently overseas having booked through Kiss - all of them will be able to complete their holidays and return to the UK through the CAA's Atol [Air Travel Organisers' Licensing] protection, it says.

Because the company has failed at the height of summer, the CAA also put in place arrangements to allow people to travel out on their holidays for the first 24 hours after the collapse, to minimise confusion and protect passengers.

About another 60,000 people have bookings with the company for the future, and will be able to claim a full refund for the Atol-protected elements of their holiday from the CAA or from their credit card company if they paid by card.

What should you do if you've booked with them?

Customers who are abroad and experiencing difficulties can call the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on 00 44 161 444 5811 for the latest information.

Customers with flights leaving the UK before 1800 BST on Wednesday 18 August should have been able to travel as normal.

Customers with bookings for after 1800 BST on Wednesday 18 August should not travel on booked holidays, but instead should make a claim for a refund.

Those with forward bookings requiring general advice about refunds under the Atol scheme should go to the CAA website for further information or can contact the CAA on 0844 571 7262.

The CAA says all travellers currently overseas will be repatriated.

They should seek advice from their travel agents about alternative travel arrangements.

Will Kiss customers get their money back?

Kiss customers are protected under the Atol scheme, which means they should not lose out financially from the company's collapse.

The company sold only a very small number of package holidays, consequently, in most cases, Atol protects only the flight element of their holiday.

Accommodation booked independently with other firms is not affected by the failure.

Those who have paid by credit card for their flights (either for the full amount or part of the sum) will have to claim back the money from their credit card company.

Was this expected?

Travel journalist Simon Calder said Thomas Cook and Tui, the two biggest operators who are in no financial danger, had last week reported it was a miserable summer and people had not been booking in large numbers since the middle of May. This meant companies were having to heavily discount their holidays.

"Against that backdrop it's not surprising we're seeing a number of the smaller players going bust, people like Goldtrail operating very much at the bottom of the market, Sun4U and now this flights broker," he told the BBC.

"What is surprising is the timing. Here we are, two weeks before the end of August and it is the third significant failure during the school summer holidays. Normally travel companies which are going to go bust do the decent thing and wait until the middle of September when the earnings are no longer coming in but the bills most definitely are.

"It's really disconcerting for people, and not just the tens of thousands who have booked to travel with Kiss flights in the next few weeks but also people travelling on other companies who are wondering what's going to happen."

He said he believed this was going to be the last significant failure during the summer holidays, but in the coming months there would be some more failures among the smaller companies.

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