The review of the EU Package Travel Directive is heating up tempers with consumer protectionists calling for more regulation and tour operators less.
The European Travel Agents’ and Tour Operators’ Association (ECTAA) urged the European Commission to “explore alternative solutions” in view of reforming the Package Travel Directive (PTD), saying the current proposal could limit pre-payments to package organizers, ultimately impacting travelers’ rights.
On October 23rd, ECTAA wrote to the Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Transport Commissioner Adina Vălean and Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders requesting an urgent meeting.
Some of the concerns expressed in writing note that the current PTD review proposals, expected to be issued on November 29, include an “intention to introduce a limitation on pre-payments” when a review of EU Regulation 261 on air passenger rights “will lack corresponding measures” on pre-payments to airlines.
ECTAA says such measures are “unnecessary” as the current law already provides significant safeguards for travelers in case package organizers go bankrupt. “To make things worse, there are considerations to narrow the scope of the PTD by excluding loose combinations sold by airlines via third party traders”, ECTAA states referring to car rental companies or accommodation platforms.
This potential loophole, ECTAA says, would favor larger airlines that could offer unprotected combinations and disrupt fair competition to the disadvantage of smaller intermediaries.
The core idea of the evaluation was how to make the directive even more “effective”, Commissioner Reynders said during a video message played at the German Travel Association (DRV) Congress in Berlin, on October 13.
“The Commission is planning a tightening in terms of consumer protection,” said Dirk Inger, DRV’s General Manager.
DRV’s President Norbert Fiebig fears that a “regulation that has worked well for years” could be damaged by new requirements. More than that — the already existing “move away from package tours” due to the decline in tour operator bookings as a result of price increases could be further fuelled, Fiebig fears.
The new travel law has been in force in Germany since July 2018, based on the new version of the EU PTD of 2015.
Once the Commission’s draft is available, a final version will have to be agreed between the European Council and the European Parliament. However, the final Directive is not likely to be adopted until 2025, possibly not until 2026.