Multicom boss John Howell today renewed criticism of plans for stronger protection for consumers in the European Package Travel Directive following a vote by MEPs.
The vote by MEPs who sit on the Parliament’s Internal Market Committee saw the proposals approved by 35 to 2 with reforms providing travellers with more protection than originally outlined by the European Commission.
A sitting of the full parliament approved the revised proposals in Strasbourg last month.
But the travel technology company’s managing director Howell slammed the decision for the reforms as “wholly flawed and out of touch with reality”.
His criticism was echoed by a call for the plans to be abandoned by the European Tour Operators’ Association, which described the reforms as “no longer fit for purpose”, “unenforceable” and “certain to generate much litigation”.
Howell said: “This is yet another example of just how out of touch our MEPs are and how they are not listening to the industry they are legislating for.
“I simply cannot understand why the European Commission and the European Parliament insist on making operators pay for airline problems. A fairer and more flexible system would be to apply levies to the airline or tour operator, depending on which party is responsible for the problem.
“The single biggest airline issue in all of this debate is the repatriation of travellers following an airline failure and this exists regardless of whether they are booking through an agent or direct with the airline [which is not currently covered by Atol].
“There should be a single fee that applies to all flight departures regardless of whether or not they are part of a package holiday.
“I believe the solution lies in the adoption of a much broader model that takes account of every aspect of the journey.
“Rather than simply loading more fees onto tour operators and making them less competitive and opening up loopholes for others to exploit, we need to take a more holistic approach to this problem.”
Howell warned that the largest flaw in the proposals will mean businesses based outside of the EU will gain a competitive advantage in the market.