ABTA to push for radical financial protection overhaul

ABTA members have voted “overwhelmingly” to have flight-only and ‘click-through’ purchases on the internet included under financial protection rules.

ABTA is to advocate a radical overhaul of consumer protection in its response to the European Commission’s (EC) consultation on the Package Travel Directive.

The ABTA submission to the European consultation will also suggest any travel organiser who assembles and sells such arrangements should be responsible for the protection of the customer’s money.

However, where a travel agent is purely acting to sell another organiser’s package or linked arrangements, it should not be their responsibility.

ABTA head of public affairs Luke Pollard is encouraging all travel companies, even those outside ABTA, to send their views into the EC.

He said: “We need to be able to demonstrate to the European Union that the approach we are taking is not just supported by our members but the industry as a whole.”

“We want standalone airlines tickets to covered by consumer protection but we want those outside the Package Travel Regulations.”

He said ABTA would immediately start lobbying the EC and would expect a response from them to the consultation by the Summer.

The deadline for responding to the consultation is February 7.

 ABTA Proposals

  • Business travel should be excluded from being covered by the Directive.

  • Standalone airline seat-only sales should be protected but this protection should be outside the package travel arrangements.

  • ABTA agrees that there should be maximum harmonisation of this directive as but wants to ensure a more even playing field between different players in the travel organising and aviation sectors than between member states. 

  • The link between price and brochures should be broken to allow greater flexibility in the delivery of information to customers, via other channels including the internet.

  • Flexibility in allowing contract changes should be retained especially around the ability to levy surcharges and vary accommodation as long as it is of the same or of a higher standard. The current 2% surcharge position should be discontinued in the UK. 

  • ABTA supports the introduction of a new label for travel protection provided it is clear, backed by considerable marketing spend by the European Union and not members and that those companies that use it are subject to central inspection to ensure that they comply with the high standards that this label suggest it affords.

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