Abta legal chief calls for review of ‘linked travel’ bookings

Abta director of legal affairs Simon Bunce has called for research by the Department for Business and Trade into whether airlines are selling holidays as Linked Travel Arrangements (LTAs).

Bunce told Travel Weekly: “Everyone is saying ‘No one is doing any LTAs’ but people are doing them. In particular, airlines are. It is something the Department for Business and Trade [DBT] should look at.

“It should research to see if people are doing them properly. If airlines are taking money for seats [as part of Linked Travel Arrangements], that money should be protected. How widespread is the sales process? The research would inform where we go next.”

The Department for Business is eight weeks into a 12-week Call for Evidence on proposals for reform of the 2018 Package Travel Regulations (PTRs) which introduced LTAs as a category of booking.

Bunce urged Abta members to help draw up a response by attending the workshops on PTRs reform it’s hosting with department officials in Edinburgh on Tuesday, November 21, Birmingham on November 29 and Manchester on December 5. Abta is also seeking feedback through a member survey.

The Call for Evidence proposes removing both domestic packages and lower-priced holidays from the regulations.

Bunce said: “It’s a great opportunity not just to focus on what the Department for Business has come up with, but what else the industry would like improved. This is the first opportunity we’ve had to say something in relation to 14-day refunds, which were in issue during Covid. Are there other things to address.”

He argued: “The 2018 regulations shifted the balance of risk from the customer to businesses. For example, under the old regulations, when a trip was cut short, we had to give a proportion of holiday costs back but customers didn’t get it all.”

Secondly, he suggested, the Supreme Court ruling in the case of X v Kuoni in 2021 “shifted the risk of unforeseen events entirely on to the tour operator. It disrupted everybody’s understanding of [tour operators’] liability.

“Can we use the opportunity to shift the balance back to where risk was more evenly shared?”

Abta members can register for the workshops here.

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