The European Technology and Travel Services Association (Ettsa) challenged claims that Europe’s package travel proposals “give a blessing to Flight-Plus”.
The association, whose members include leading online travel agents (OTAs), said the directive “invites interpretation” and warned it would lead “certain industry players” to seek loopholes.
Ettsa also took issue with Abta’s view that the proposed Package Travel Directive would define most Flight-Plus bookings as packages.
Flight-Plus is how many UK OTAs operate allowing them to adhere to the law while not taking on the full responsibilities and tax liabilities of selling full-blown packages.
However, Ettsa secretary general Christoph Klenner agreed “a large proportion” of Flight-Plus bookings would fall within the definition of a package under the proposed directive.
He said: “We find it hard to get behind Abta’s interpretation that the PTD proposal would consider Flight-Plus a package.
“What the proposal says is that only those combinations of products that are booked in one transaction and for a total price are covered, or combinations of products that are sold under the term package or a similar term.
“None of these conditions are met by Flight-Plus. To claim that PTD gives a blessing to Flight-Plus is deceptive.”
Klenner said his members did not object to taking responsibility for clients, which they already did as “a courtesy”.
“If it brings everyone up to the same level of service quality, that is great,” he said. “But this debate demonstrates the PTD proposal is poorly drafted and presents an arbitrary definition of a package. It invites interpretation and will drive certain industry players towards finding loopholes.”
Klenner said: “This is driven by the classic tour operators who feel their business model under pressure not only from OTAs but also from airlines selling holidays. We understand that, but the question is whether the directive will really help tour operators protect themselves from competition.”
Klenner said: “It creates a questionable standard of protection, creates more consumer confusion and will ultimately increase the cost of travel.”