Abta hailed the final draft of the new Package Travel Directive (PTD), formally signed off last week, while acknowledging: “It’s not perfect.”
Head of public affairs Stephen D’Alfonso, who has led Abta’s lobbying effort in Brussels since last year, said:
“We’re happy the directive is able to move on. It’s technical, rather complicated and not exactly what we were calling for, but it means a levelling of the playing field. The linked travel arrangements will bring into scope a lot of travel bookings which fall out of protection now.”
This new category of protected booking will cover click-through sales between websites – typically an airline site and an accommodation or online travel agency (OTA) site. D’Alfonso said: “It is important the directive recognises this is a model that is growing and needs addressing.”
The PTD will make click-through sales – where a travel-booker’s name, email and payment details are passed between sites – a package holiday, and the European Commission and Council of Ministers will review the arrangements after three years.
D’Alfonso said: “It’s fundamental that the review clause is there. It allows the EC and council to look at where businesses may be circumventing [the rules]. He suggested Europe could tighten the rules “if more and more businesses transfer two bits of information but not three”.
D’Alfonso highlighted other aspects of the PTD he said were positive.
“There are provisions on the information supplied to consumers to clarify what they are purchasing. Agents can continue to be agents if that is how they are behaving – that wasn’t certain at any stage in the process.
“In the event of extraordinary circumstances [such as the 2010 ash cloud], a travel organiser’s liability will be capped at three days. Previously, that liability was unlimited. Also, travel businesses will be able to surcharge by up to 8% in certain circumstances with a consumer’s consent.”
D’Alfonso said: “We’ll look at it all in detail, working with the Department for Business and Department for Transport [on implementation].”
It will mean changes for agents and operators, but D’Alfonso said: “I can’t see these will be more or less onerous. They will be different.”
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