Revised PTR ‘will come in on July 1’ despite delay

The UK Government is set to reject industry demands to delay the July deadline for enforcing new Package Travel Regulations despite missing this month’s deadline for their introduction.

A consultation on the draft regulations is not expected from the Department for Business (BEIS) until the end of this month despite the government having been required to transpose the EU Package Travel Directive into UK law by January 1.

The failure means the UK is technically in breach of its EU treaty obligations.

Eirik Pitkethly, deputy director of aviation strategy at the Department for Transport (DfT), confirmed ministers still intend to meet the July 1 deadline for the regulations to come into force.

He said: “The government’s ambition is to try to achieve the timetable. We have a responsibility to implement this law and could be subject to an unlimited fine for not having done so.”

Pitkethly told a Hill Dickinson travel law seminar at the end of last year: “Not achieving the timetable brings risks to UK companies.

“It means you’re out of synch with other companies in Europe, not offering the same protection other companies in Europe are offering, and therefore customers potentially have a claim against you under European law.”

Thomas Cook group head of public affairs Stephen D’Alfonso told Pitkethly: “It’s not ideal to be preparing [for implementation] from a document that isn’t the final version.

“These aren’t simple changes. A lot of the system changes are quite expensive and you wouldn’t want to make those not knowing the final regulations.

“The changes also come at a bad time for the industry in the middle of peak season in July.”

D’Alfonso said: “We’ve been looking at how we could maybe extend the implementation deadline.

“An extra few months would give the industry a lot of extra breathing space. The UK is not alone in this.”

CAA ‘on track’ with draft for new package rules

The CAA has insisted it remains “comfortable” with the timetable for implementing new Package Travel Regulations (PTRs) despite the delay.

CAA head of Atol Andy Cohen told a Hill Dickinson travel law seminar: “Obviously, we work very closely with the Department for Transport.

“We’re working on a consultation on the standard terms that go alongside the new regulations.

“Hopefully, when the industry sees the draft regulations, they will also see the CAA consultation. We remain comfortable on the timetable.”

Eirik Pitkethly, deputy director of aviation strategy at the Department for Transport, said:

“We’re confident that we understand the issues [and] the version of the regulations we publish will be more or less there. We’re not expecting large changes thereafter.”

Abta director of legal affairs Simon Bunce said: “It’s encouraging to hear we’re not anticipating any major changes.

“If you’re a tour operator, you shouldn’t see any significant changes.

“Travel agents have a rather more fundamental process to go through, looking at how their business model fits in and where they might want to fit in.”