Following a record number of airline failures in 2017, the European Travel Agents’ and Tour Operators’ Association (ECTAA) is calling on the EU Commission to introduce an efficient mechanism to protect EU passengers against airline insolvencies. The Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA), an ECTAA member, is also campaigning for all Irish travel providers to be bonded by the Commission for Aviation Regulation (CAR).
The ECTAA is calling on the EU decision-makers to introduce specific EU legislation establishing a mandatory mechanism borne by air carriers to protect passengers against airline failure, of which the cost would be included in the ticket price.
Pat Dawson, ITAA Chief Executive, said: “As airlines are among the largest travel providers in the EU, we believe it is necessary that they, along will all other travel providers, be bonded in order to protect consumers. With so many changes in the European aviation market, airlines need to offer guarantees against their own financial failure, as is the case for travel agents and tour operators.”
The ECTAA said that more than a million bookings were affected by the bankruptcy of Air Berlin, Monarch Airlines and Niki, all of which ceased trading in the past three months. More than 110,000 of Monarch’s passengers were stranded abroad following the sudden announcement, while a further 750,000 people have paid for flights, which they were not able to take. At least 180,000 customers of Air Berlin who booked flights that have been cancelled will not get reimbursed and 410,000 bookings with Niki (210,000 bookings from travel agents and 200,000 direct bookings) were cancelled.
The ITAA has repeatedly called on the Irish government to review the legislation around bonding among travel providers in Ireland. Following the collapse of Lowcostholidays in 2016, almost 4,200 Irish customers made claims to the Commission for Aviation Regulation amounting to €3.8 million. These claims depleted the Travellers’ Protection Fund, which is made up of contributions from tour operators and administered by the Commission, by 75% as Lowcostholidays’ bonding level was under-provided.
Cormac Meehan, ITAA President, said: “The ITAA have been pushing for a collective bond among all travel agents, tour operators and airlines. We are suggesting that a small levy be included in every ticket price to bond airlines and protect consumers. As it stands, 85% of the travelling public remain unprotected by outdated bonding legislation. We have contacted the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport many times about this issue as it will be the Irish taxpayer who will have to pay if there was to be another travel provider collapse in Ireland. We are now working closely with the ECTAA to try and reform the legislation at EU level.”