Sunday 20 April 2014

Irish travellers await protection of EU laws

Stranded: Holidays booked with licensed travel agents are fully protected

It's more than five years since XL Leisure Group, Britain's third largest tour operator, went bust – leaving thousands of holidaymakers stranded abroad. Anyone who booked a holiday directly with the airline, XL Airways, lost their money – and had no chance of a refund.

Irish travellers could have to wait another three years before they can rest easy when booking holidays directly with airlines.

Currently, if you book your holiday through a licensed travel agent or tour operator, you get your money back if the agent or operator goes bust. However, this protection does not extend to those who book flights or hotel accommodation directly with airlines.

The EU law on package travel is being reformed to ensure that those who book their holidays directly with airlines get their money back should the airline go bust. "We hope the new directive will be adopted next year," said Michel de Blust, secretary general of the European Travel Agents' and Tour Operators' Association. "By the end of 2016 at the latest, Irish travellers should be able to enjoy the benefits of the new legislation."

Currently, an insurance bond scheme covers the cost of repatriating customers and ensures that those who haven't travelled yet get their money back should a travel agent or tour operator go bust.

"Travel agents are competing with large airlines who can offer products such as hotels and car hire in addition to flights," said Clare Dunne, president of the Irish Travel Agents Association. "These entities do not offer any bonding cover while in effect they are offering the same product as a travel agent."

Sunday Independent

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