The European Travel Agencies and Tour Operators Association (ECTAA) is concerned that the ongoing review of the EU Package Travel Directive will result in stricter requirements for travel agencies and tour operators. Chairman Frank Oostdam also criticizes that airlines should be required to protect their customers’ money.
An open letter to the European Commission
The association has long advocated for a thorough, joint review of the Package Travel Directive and the Air Passenger Rights Regulation, says an open letter to European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen , and to European commissioners Didier Reynders. For example, delays in airlines compensating passengers for canceled flights and the impact of these measures on travel agents required a “robust legislative response”.
Unequal treatment between airlines and tour operators
However, “in recent months, the lack of political ambition and the different objectives of the general directorates have become evident, which endangers the potential for significant reforms”, explains the president of ECTAA. While most of the passenger protection issues that have emerged during the pandemic have been directly linked to airline practices, it is “surprising” that the EU, in its upcoming review of air passenger rights, is tending to impose on airlines airlines only a minimum of obligations. . On the other hand, the European Commission wants to recommend stricter requirements for travel agencies and tour operators, even if they have had little involvement in the problems of the pandemic.
Package holidaymakers already benefit from “significant security”
The sector is “particularly concerned by the intention to introduce a limit on advance payments in the next revision of the Package Travel Directive, specifically aimed at package travel operators”. According to ECTAA, this is “unnecessary as the current directive already provides travelers with significant security in the event of the insolvency of the package travel operator”.
On the other hand, the upcoming revision of the air passenger rights framework does not contain appropriate measures, as there is no limit on advance payments. Protection of passenger payments against airline insolvency is also not included or could only be addressed as a requirement to inform consumers about the availability of paid insurance to protect against this risk.
ECTAA, along with other industry and consumer associations, have already highlighted the absence of such a product on the market.
New regulations for “free combinations”
Worse still, according to the latest information, there are plans to restrict the scope of the package travel directive. Free combinations that would be sold by airlines through third-party providers, such as car rental companies or accommodation platforms, should be excluded from the classification of linked travel services. If the definition were indeed changed, airlines could sell combinations of travel services without having to comply with the obligations set out in the Package Travel Directive.
It remains to be seen what impact new regulations in this area would have on the French market?