Abta has said holidaymakers should receive refunds for package holidays booked which can’t go due to Brexit but has confirmed they won’t be liable to compensation.
The trade association was responding to what the Mail on Sunday claimed was a “top secret” travel industry report it had seen in which Abta advises members to add Brexit clauses to their terms and conditions.
The newspaper reported that the “confidential blueprint” for a no-deal Brexit was first sent to members in August and will be updated ahead of the deadline for the UK leaving the EU in March 2019.
The scenario set out in the document reflected the more pessimistic view on Brexit of the likes of Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary, although reports over the weekend suggested a deal could be sealed within weeks.
The Mail on Sunday said holidaymakers could not only face no compensation if their holiday is cancelled due to Brexit but could also be asked to pay more if leaving the EU hits the value of the pound.
The paper said firms are being advised to add Brexit clauses in their terms and conditions which would allow them to avoid having to pay compensation on the grounds that the Brexit impact was ‘unforeseeable and unavoidable’.
Travel firms can add surcharges in the event of a spike in costs like fuel or changes in foreign exchange but only under strict rules and after they have a absorbed a proportion of the costs.
An ABTA spokesman told the Mail on Sunday: “Anyone who books and pays for a package holiday through a UK travel company will receive a full refund for that holiday if it cannot be provided due to Brexit.
“As Brexit is a situation which is beyond the control of travel companies, customers will not be entitled to compensation.
“If you book an individual travel service – e.g. a flight or a hotel – the supplier’s terms and conditions will apply. They would usually offer a refund if the service cannot be provided.
“If Brexit was the reason, compensation is unlikely to be available, as it would be deemed beyond the control of the travel service provider.”
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