‘Thoughtful approach’ of proposed PTD gets thumbs-up from new Abta chairman

‘Thoughtful approach’ of proposed PTD gets thumbs-up from new Abta chairman

Incoming Abta chairman Noel Josephides believes revised package travel rules will extend traditional tour operators’ liability to big online travel agents.

Industry experts are still poring over proposed changes to the European Package Travel Directive published last week, with Abta planning to go public on the implications next week.

But Sunvil managing director Josephides, who is due to chair his first Abta board meeting next week, said: “The way I read [the Directive] is it will be awkward for any site that is dynamically packaging to avoid putting a package together. It allows ‘Flight-Plus’, but an awkward Flight-Plus.”

The Directive proposes two new categories of bookings in addition to ‘pre-arranged packages’. The sale of a combination of travel services – now covered by a Flight-Plus Atol in the UK – would be classified as either a ‘customised package’ or an ‘assisted travel arrangement’.

Josephides said: “Assisted travel arrangements are click-throughs.” That is when one site – such as an airline site – offers a link to another, say for accommodation.

The Abta chairman welcomed moves to extend the regulations to companies outside the EU. The EC proposes: “If a package is sold through an EU retailer but the organiser is based outside the EU, travellers will be able to seek redress directly from the retailer.”

The EC claims the proposals will cut the average cost of traditional packages, “benefit SMEs more than larger operators” and make it easier for businesses to expand across EU borders.

Josephides said: “The Directive is explicit about liability. But an agent acting as a true agent is not liable. A lot of thought has gone into it. It’s a very good Directive.”


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