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Report on the application of the Package Travel Directive

Report on the application of the Package Travel Directive

10 March 2021: The Commission published a report on the application of the Package Travel Directive on 1 March 2021. The report takes stock of the experience gained with the application of the Package Travel Directive since its entry into application in July 2018. It presents preliminary results of the assessment of national measures transposing the Directive. It also assesses the rules in the context of the 2019 Thomas Cook bankruptcy and the challenges that have since emerged during the COVID-19 crisis.

The Commission issued guidance on 13 May 2020 on how to safely resume travel and reboot Europe's tourism following the effects of COVID-19, including a recommendation on vouchers offered to passengers and travellers. The information is available in the section on Travel and Transport of the EU Coronavirus response page. 

As announced in its communication issued on 13 November 2020 on the New Consumer Agenda, the findings of the report will support the  Commission in carrying out a deeper analysis of PTD by 2022 in order to evaluate whether the current regulatory framework for package travel continues to ensure robust and comprehensive consumer protection at all times.

Elements from the report:

  • Some delays in the transposition into national laws: By March 2019, all Member States had notified the Commission of the complete transposition of the Directive.
  • Some difficulties when differencing Linked Travel Arrangement (LTA) and Package:
    • Recital 12 clarifies that the posting of links through which travellers are merely informed about further travel services in a general way should not be considered as facilitating an LTA. Hence, an active promotion, based on a commercial link involving remuneration between the trader facilitating the procurement of an additional travel service and the other trader, will generally be required (see recital 13).
    • With regard to ‘click-through bookings’ it may be very difficult for consumers and enforcement authorities to prove whether a package, an LTA or none of them was concluded.
  • Some difficulties in transposing provisions on insolvency protection: the Commission will analyse the findings of the study and, where appropriate, consider entering into a dialogue with the Member States and/or opening infringement proceedings. Challenges materialised in relation to insolvency protection, in particular in the context of the Thomas Cook bankruptcy (see point 4.1), and the COVID-19 pandemic (see chapter 5).
  • Provisions on insolvency linked to LTA:  traders facilitating an LTA must provide a money-back guarantee for payments they receive from the traveller in case the relevant travel service is not performed due to their insolvency. This guarantee covers also repatriation when the trader facilitating an LTA is responsible for the carriage of passengers. The report underlines that the providers of the additional travel service do not always comply with their reporting obligations, e.g. due to lack of technical means for secured exchange of data or fear to breach the General Data Protection Regulation.
  • Provisions on insolvency and related to repatriation: organizers must provide security for the refund of all payments made by travellers insofar as the relevant travel services are not performed as a consequence of the organizer’s insolvency. That security shall also cover the travellers’ repatriation if carriage of passengers is included in the package. Member States must ensure that the protection is effective in accordance with the requirements laid down in Article 17 of the PTD.
  • On vouchers, the report reminds that the PTD does not expressly provide for the possibility to make refunds in form of a voucher. In its Recommendation (EU) 2020/648, the Commission recognised that organisers may propose vouchers as an alternative to reimbursement in money, subject to the traveller’s voluntary acceptance, in the event of cancellations.
  • Next steps:

    The subsequent relevant actions have been announced in the Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy:

  • the review of the passenger rights regulatory framework, including to ensure its resilience to extensive travel disruptions and options for multimodal tickets; and
  • the assessment of options and, if appropriate, the proposal for an adequate financial protection scheme to protect passengers against the risk of a liquidity crisis or an insolvency regarding the reimbursement of tickets and if needed their repatriation by 2022.

The Commission must now assess whether the differences between the PTD and the passenger rights Regulations as regards insolvency protection and cancellation rights are justified or if the rules should be more aligned  and whether specific rules for situations like COVID-19 should be proposed , with the objective to better protect consumers.