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Europe wants to protect online travel purchases

With the growth in the number of Europeans that resort to the purchase of holiday packages on the Internet, the so-called dynamic packages, the European Commission is concerned with extending the existing protections for package trips to these systems, having launched a consultation that may come to give new legislation takes place.

According to the European executive, 23% of consumers in the European Union book dynamic travel packages, selected through a website or several offers that interest them most, combining flights, hotels and car rental. There is no data for Portugal, but the EC information shows that this number rises to 40% in countries like Ireland and Sweden, which reveals the weight that these options are gaining when buying travel.

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Contrary to what most consumers think, the purchase of these solutions is not protected by European consumer protection standards that apply to package travel and that define information, responsibility for services of insufficient quality and protection against bankruptcy of companies.

Recently, the bankruptcies of Sky Europe, XL, Futura and Zoom brought this problem back to the scene, with thousands of tourists stranded at airports.

“We need solid protection that gives due peace of mind to all consumers who book holiday packages and we must ensure a level playing field so that companies can compete on equal terms”, stresses Meglena Kuneva, Commissioner for Defense Consumer, who confesses that he is especially concerned with issues of corporate insolvency.

The European executive argues that the 1990 directive, which covered package travel, is no longer suitable for the current market, where the Internet and low-cost airlines have transformed economic models and in which users become more involved.

For this reason, six review areas have been identified, which include packages designed by the consumer on the Internet, all at once, from the same website, for example, Expedia or Opodo, but also packages proposed by associated websites through agreements partnership.

In the event of insolvency of companies, the Commission considers that the minimum protection must include the reimbursement of expenses already paid and the repatriation in the event of insolvency of the airline.

After the consultation, which is now starting, the executive plans to present concrete proposals for the revision of the directive in October next year.