ABTA has called for the European Union Package Directive (pdf file), which regulates package holidays, to be scrapped or completely rewritten to protect travellers who do not buy package deals.

In its response to a European Commission Working Document on the 1990 EU Directive on Package Travel, ABTA recommends the creation of a uniform and fair system where all travel companies and providers share the burden of regulation to protect all travelling consumers.

ABTA chief executive Mark Tanzer, said: “The current laws on travel protection are no longer working. Some 63,000 passengers were stranded by the 50 European airlines that went bankrupt between 2000 and 2005”

He said the expansion of the internet, the growth in no-frills airlines and the targeting of leisure travellers by full service airlines meant the proportion of consumers protected under the Civil Aviation Regulations (or Air Transport Organisers Licence), had reduced by 41% since 1997. Tanzer added that “the burden of that protection falls on one specific sector of the market while other sectors are being developed outside of existing regulation.

ABTA asserts the European Commission should consider whether the current protection is justified and proportionate. If they decide it is, ABTA believes the scope of the law must be widened to all sectors of the industry.

Alternatively, all issues dealt with under the Package Travel Directive – other than repatriation – can be addressed under existing EU laws and so the EU Package Directive could be scrapped entirely.

The association said a separate law would be needed to repatriate consumers to the point of departure when their travel provider fails financially. This law would not be restricted just to package holidaymakers.