All EU Member States were to implement the new EU Package Travel Directive by 1st July 2018, but by 1st November two had still to do so – Ireland and Spain, reports Neil Steedman. However, the Commission for Aviation Regulation expects the required Statutory Instrument to be published “in the next few weeks”.
That is according to Josephine O’Reilly, Director of Finance and Licensing, Commission for Aviation Regulation, when addressing delegates to the Worldchoice Ireland annual conference on Saturday 3rd November 2018. Let’s wait and see what “a few weeks” turns out to be in reality.
Josephine also said that the Commission did not expect the SI to differ substantially from the Draft SI that has already been published. Again, we will have to wait and see. However, she added that the legal implementations already made by the other 26 Member States all followed a similar approach.
What is important is that, once the Irish SI is published, the CAR will update its guidance issued to the travel industry (see https://www.ittn.ie/news/car-publishes-guidance-note-to-industry-on-new-eu-package-travel-directive/), if such is required, and will undertake a second round of consultations around the country with the industry.
The first round received 42 submissions and the second round will focus on options C, D and E as regards amending bonding arrangements and restoration of the Travellers’ Protection Fund. (The collapse last year of the Irish division of Lowcostholidays, which was bonded by CAR for only €79,243, resulted in €3.26 million, or 65%, having to be drawn down from the €5 million Travellers’ Protection Fund!)
Options A to D
Option A, which involved 200% travel agent bonding, 100% tour operator bonding, and no one-off or on-going levy, is considered to be a non-runner. So too is Option B, which would have retained the existing 4% and 10% bonding but introduced a 2.5% one-off levy and 0.2% on-going levy for tour operators.
Option C also retains the 4% and 10% bonding but would introduce a 0.35% one-off levy for tour operators and travel agents, plus a 0.03% on-going levy for tour operators and travel agents.
Options D and E would double the existing bonding levels to 8% and 20%, but redefine projected licensable turnover to exclude payments passed on to suppliers immediately and bills paid in arrears. Option D would also adopt the 0.35% one-off and 0.03% on-going levies for tour operators and travel agents, while Option E would reduce these to 0.25% and 0.02%, but require that firms could not exceed their projected turnover and must identify at the point of sale to consumers whether they would be eligible to claim.
Last year the Commission introduced four Key Performance Indicators with which to assess this year’s licensing renewal rounds.
In the May 2018 round, when 113 licences were issued, the percentage of applications responded to within seven days was 93%, and in the November round, when 102 licences were issued with eight still outstanding, this KPI was increased to 96%.
In May the Decisions In Principle issued within one month totaled 99%, but this dropped to 92% in November.
Licences issued within two weeks totalled 98% in May, and 92% in November.
Audited annual accounts examined within six weeks were 85% in May, but this increased in November to 92%.
In addition, 35 companies have been visited since 1st January 2018 – and the Commission plans to increase that number.