ABTA demands EU catches airlines in regulatory net

ABTA has demanded the European Commission closes “the biggest hole in the financial protection regime” and brings in the airlines.

The association said only action by the EU will bring airlines into the regulatory net after failed attempts to force the UK government to pass legislation.

The airline industry, led by BA, but also increasingly by the new breed of low cost online carriers, have resisted regulation which is currently limited to the sale of packages.

But the increasing tendency of customers to book non-package travel arrangements using a low cost flight, often clicking through from an airline’s site, means the majority of holidaymakers now leave the UK unprotected.

The EU is currently conducting a consultation on Air Passenger Rights legislation which could see flyers given greater protection.

The UK government has argued that taking action unilaterally would only result in it being open to a challenge in the European courts.

The last attempt to force the industry to adopt an across the board £1 levy on all flights to provide financial protection and to pay for repatriation in the event of an airline failing was narrowly defeated in the House of Commons.

Mark Tanzer, ABTA chief executive, said “The Government has consistently made it clear that it would not take unilateral action to bring airlines within the scope of a financial protection scheme.

“This leaves European legislation as the only current option for pursuing this outcome.

“The European Air Passenger Rights consultation has provided us an ideal opportunity to press the case for change and if the Government has any concern for consumer interests it must support us.”

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