Abta claims lobbying success in Brussels

The European Parliament has rejected proposals for a cooling off period for customers after booking a holiday and plans to introduce a Europe-wide aviation tax in addition to UK Air Passenger Duty also appear to have been rejected.

Abta claimed “significant lobbying successes” in Brussels after the two moves were revealed. The Consumer Rights Directive was passed last week without any cooling off periods for holiday purchases as proposed by some MEPs.

Abta helped defeat an amendment to the directive that would have given customers the right to cancel a booking with no cancellation fee for up to 14 days.

The association also lobbied against plans for a new EU-wide air tax. Proposals to introduce a new per passenger air tax in the next EU budget proposals were being actively considered by the European Commission to raise more cash.

But the Commission’s budget includes no mention of introducing a new aviation tax for the period 2014-2020. Both moves would have had a significant and damaging effect on the UK travel industry, Abta argued.

Head of public affairs Luke Pollard said: “Abta has invested significantly in our work in Brussels and the hard work is paying off. I am delighted that the Consumer Rights Directive has been passed without proposals for a holiday booking cooling off period.

“A cooling off period would have forced significant changes to current business models and almost certainly resulted in higher prices for consumers and additional costs for holiday companies.

“However, there is still some support for the concept and there is a danger that it may return in the terms of a revised Package Travel Directive. Abta will continue with our industry partners to lobby in Brussels to make sure that we successfully make the case against this damaging and ill-thought out proposal.”

He added: “We also had confirmation that the EU will not be pursuing its own air tax on top of the UK’s Air Passenger Duty. As the country with the highest air tax the UK was at the forefront of efforts against yet another new tax on flying and it looks as if our arguments have won the day.”

A revised Package Travel Directive is expected to be released in 2012 with measures to address airline insolvency being published, possibly as early as December this year.

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