Plans to revise the European Package Travel Directive include pricing and consumer rights proposals that have alarmed Abta.
The proposals, likely to be unveiled by the end of the year, will go beyond extending the type of holidays defined as packages.
Abta chief executive Mark Tanzer said: “Nothing has appeared formally, but our understanding is that one proposal is for a general consumer right to withdraw from a booking. Any ‘cooling off’ would be difficult when companies do yield management hour by hour. It could lead to multiple ghost bookings while people search for the cheapest deal.”
The European Commission also proposes curbs on price variation. “Companies wouldn’t be able to alter a price once they struck a deal with a client,” he said. “They would have to price in a surcharge to cover [any rise in costs].
“We understand the proposals include provisions for withdrawal [from a booking] for personal reasons and requiring everyone to provide ‘prompt assistance’ in destinations. That could mean someone on the ground or at the end of a phone. It’s not feasible for everyone to provide tour operator facilities: that would result in higher prices.”
Tanzer added: “There is also the issue of who falls within the scope of the directive. If a holiday sold by an airline is essentially the same as one sold by a tour operator it needs to be included.”
He said: “The EC wouldn’t include a proposal unless it thought there was a consumer benefit. For us to carry the day, we need to put a consumer detriment argument that trumps any consumer benefit.”
Abta wants members to submit evidence to support its arguments. But the figures need to be robust, said Tanzer. “They will go through a lot of scrutiny. We can’t come up with rhetorical numbers.” Submissions should be in by the first week of September.
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