With flights still going to Spain, holiday company, On The Beach, are still backing their policy to refund the holiday but not the flight costs if the flight went ahead.
The majority of package holiday companies such as Jet 2 and TUI have been offering their customers a full refund for all costs but the online holiday company On The Beach, remain defiant.
On The Beach CEO Simon Cooper said in a statement that: “Industry practice, mainly driven by Abta’s historic guidance, has been to treat the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) as a trigger for full cancellation and refund rights for customers.
“Industry practise is, by its definition, ‘the usual thing that is done in a particular situation’, but it is not law, and it is something which can and should change and evolve over time and should certainly change in response to this highly unusual situation.”
The stance by Cooper has gone totally against the advice of Abta, to which the company are a member as they advised last week:
“Should offer refunds to package holiday customers where the Foreign Office advises against travel”.
ABTA has said it is carrying out “preliminary investigations” into On The Beach and fellow online travel agent Love Holidays’ refund policies under its Code of Conduct.”
Although the comments left Cooper undeterred as he fired back:
“Contrary to common misconceptions, Abta is an industry body, of which membership for travel businesses is not mandatory. It is not a regulator or a lawmaker.”
The Package Travel Regulations make no mention of the FCO advice, and in fact, merely stipulate that the passenger is entitled to a refund “in the event of unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances occurring at the place of destination or its immediate vicinity and which significantly affect a) the performance of the package, or b) the carriage of passengers to the destination.”
Cooper further went on to state: “The blanket approach within the current FCO advice on Spain is highly unusual. Many in the industry, including Abta, have called for a more nuanced approach.
“The advice has not triggered airspace closures or widespread flight cancellations. Large volumes of flights continue to go ahead to Spain and its islands every day and hotels and tourist attractions remain open.
“In accordance with the PTRs, we are still able to fulfil our obligation as a package organiser – the carriage of passengers is unaffected and the holiday is still able to be delivered.” finished Cooper.
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