Clarification sought as Abta starts package law consultation

Clarification sought as Abta starts package law consultation

Abta has begun consulting on proposals to revise the package travel rules, issuing guidance and a question-and-answer document seeking members’ views.

The association says: “A package will include most Flight-Plus holidays as sold currently.” It will also include “some holidays booked by way of clicking through from one website to another”.

Ettsa, the organisation representing online travel agents in Europe, told Travel Weekly it agrees the proposed Package Travel Directive would redefine “a large proportion” of Flight-Plus bookings as packages.

The Association of Travel Agents, formed by a group of Abta members to lobby against such an outcome, has still to respond to the directive. A statement was expected this week, but association chief executive Greg Mould said: “We’re not ready to make a comment. There are quite a few interpretations. We are waiting for our advisers.”

ATA co-founder Steve Endacott, chief executive of On Holiday Group, previously said the association had achieved “90% of what it wanted” from the directive.

This week, stressing that he was speaking in a personal capacity, Endacott said: “I’m happy with the intent. The EC clearly wants to allow agents to remain agents. But like all regulation, you have to study the fine print. We are pushing hard for clarification.”

Writing in Travel Weekly, industry lawyer Stephen Mason of Travlaw argues: “Many more bookings will become packages.” He believes the proposed “assisted travel arrangements”, which would be similar to Flight-Plus in carrying financial protection but no package liability, would have “only a small space to occupy”.

Abta’s consultation will run to August 30, with regional workshops throughout the month.

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