The European Union has endorsed proposals to update the Package Travel Directive (PTD), potentially offering coverage to travellers who create their own deals online.
While travel agents are already covered by the measures, the European Commission has outlined plans to modernise the safeguards to include those who book “dynamic packages” online.
John Dali, commissioner for health and consumer policy, told the parliament in Strasbourg online booking was increasingly common, making changes to legislation increasingly urgent.
This shift toward online booking has also resulted in an uneven playing field for travel agents, he said.
The move has been supported by ABTA, which said in a statement: “We are encouraged the EU has taken notice of the submissions ABTA made through the consultation process of the review of the PTD and we welcome the comments that have come out of the discussion.”
The commission launched a consultation in November 2009, and concrete proposals were originally expected around autumn 2010.
According to the commissioner, the main challenge of this revision is to broaden the field of application of the PTD in order to cover situations that did not exist or which were marginal at the time of its adoption in 1990.
This includes online booking.
Of particularly interest to consumers is the concern raised by both the Commission and MEPs for airline insolvency to be covered by European law.
Airlines have until now been allowed to trade without protecting the monies they take from consumers in advance of travel. This could put consumers at risk of financial loss and places tour operators at a significant competitive disadvantage.
“We now have a timetable for the process of this new law and ABTA will be lobbying hard to make sure that Members will, in future, be trading in a regulatory environment that meets their needs and the needs of their customers,” added ABTA
Holidaymakers, however, will have to wait until the beginning of 2011 to see the European Commission present legislative proposals; via an amendment of Directive 90/314/EEC on package travel, package holidays and package tours.