Travel Republic managing director Kane Pirie has been appointed to the board of trade association Abta.
Travel weekly columnist Pirie has been a high profile boss in the industry for the last three years as he fought a CAA legal case against him and his company over alleged breaches of Atol regulations.
The case against Pirie was eventually dropped and Travel Republic, one of the UK’s leading independent online travel agencies, was found not guilty, both in the case and an appeal and the CAA was denied permission to pursue a further appeal.
Travel Republic received public support from Abta for the stance it took and cited the association’s rules in its defence.
Pirie is due to appear at Abta’s the forthcoming Travel Convention annual conference in Malta in two sessions: a main stage session called Do Different with TWgroup chairman Clive Jacobs and in a masterclass on consumer protection.
This will pitch him against the CAA’s director of consumer protection group Richard Jackson, whose department sought the legal case against Travel Republic.
John McEwan, Abta chairman said: “Kane is an outstanding addition to a strong Board.
“Online travel agents, such as Travel Republic, have become a very significant part of travel retailing, and Kane has been at the forefront of that sector’s development.
“He has deep understanding of the issues that the industry now faces in respect of consumer protection, and his broad commercial experience will be invaluable as Abta charts a way forward for its Members.”
Abta has been keen to ensure it evolves to represent the wider travel industry having traditionally been a trade organisation for more traditional bricks and mortar travel agents.
Pirie becomes the only pure online player on the board since the departure of John Bevan when he left lastminute.com two years ago.
He said: “These are exciting times in travel with a lot in play but that also creates an opportunity for Abta to step forward as the leading light and agent of change. I am very pleased to join the Board and hope I can be of service to Abta and its broad community of Members.”
Pirie joined Kingston-Upon-Thames based Travel Republic in 2005, and with his colleagues has successfully piloted that business through a range of challenges.
Prior to that, he worked in both private equity and corporate finance including several years overseas.