Editor's letter: Mixed messages in industry's lobbying efforts

Editor's letter: Mixed messages in industry's lobbying efforts

TWgroup editor Lucy HuxleyBoth Tui and easyJet held parliamentary receptions in the House of Commons this week – putting the travel industry and the issues it faces at the heart of government.

The fact that these two leading travel companies both held receptions at Parliament shows how the industry has at last raised its game with regards to political lobbying.

At Tuesday’s Tui event, transport minister Theresa Villiers gave the clearest confirmation yet that the government is actively thinking about bringing the airlines into the Atol protection scheme, albeit not for a couple of years until legislation can be brought to bear.

The move was welcomed by Abta and member companies, but at easyJet’s event on Wednesday, this prospect was considered to be as unlikely as it was during the last administration.

So while it is great that the industry is being heard in Westminster, it is still not speaking with one voice, which must be pretty perplexing for those on the receiving end.

In fact, at a gathering of senior industry leaders held by Barclays this week, when asked what the biggest impact of the new regulation would be on the industry, one senior figure replied simply “confusion”.

Pretty much all 10 of those in attendance agreed the proposed flight-plus Atol would not improve the protection system because it left loopholes.

They also revealed that many companies were already altering their models to get around the new rules although for some the hope that airlines will be brought in eventually might encourage compliance.

However, as one boss said: “Unless regulation is watertight, it’s not worth having”.  Government ministers should take note of that.

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