Travel group urges review of package travel rules

Travel group urges review of package travel rules

The Travel Network Group has called on the government to reassess changes to package travel rules following the collapse of Lowcost Travel Group.

Gary Lewis, chief executive of the Travel Network Group, added his voice to concerns about Europe's new Package Travel Directive (PTD), due to come into force by 2018

Revised Package Travel Regulations, based on the directive, would allow travel firms based anywhere in the EU to sell to UK customers without a UK Atol licence so long as they adhered to the financial protection regime in their "place of establishment".

The government has confirmed it will implement the new PTD ahead of Britain leaving the UK, with an industry consultation due in late autumn.

Lowcost Travel Group's online travel agency Lowcostholidays left the Atol scheme in 2013 to operate under a less onerous Balearics financial protection regime.

It ceased trading in mid-July, leaving up to 270,000 customers of the company with scant hope of compensation through the Balearics scheme.

Lewis said the failure showed what could happen to customers travelling without Atol protection.

But he expressed concern the new PTD would undermine existing regulations, and suggested "a period of calm" was needed rather than further change following a succession of reforms to the Atol scheme, including introduction of the Flight-Plus Atol in 2012.

He said: “Atol has done some remarkable things. It has solved the shortfall in the Air Travel Trust [which underwrites protection] and allowed [the CAA to promote] a full Atol message [about protection].

“The status quo has been robustly tested and it feels like it’s not doing badly.”

Lewis said his experience of how the EU handled PTD reform had been enough to make him consider voting for Brexit, although he had voted for the UK to Remain in the EU.


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