Today I went to ABTA’s Travel Matters conference, now in its twelfth year and postponed from the summer thanks to rail strikes. It’s ABTA’s short conference based around politics, policy and consumer affairs – something which is of course topical for all travel businesses following the pandemic.
I’m going to cover the main points interest, which could affect you as travellers and have a direct impact on your holiday plans. The key speaker was Baroness Vere of Noribton, who is the minister at the Department of Transport for Aviation, Maritime and Security.
Firstly, and most importantly at the moment is the threat of a border force strike over Christmas. Baroness Vere confirmed there were contingency plans in place, however couldn’t rule out longer queues than normal over the Christmas period when coming back into the country.
The second is something rather more complex, but could have a direct impact on travel over the next twelve months. By the end of next year, all outstanding EU laws will have to be either changed or written into UK law, which leaves many areas of consumer protection and rights open for change. There are expected to be some changes to the CAA’s ATOL scheme along with the Package Travel Regulations which define your rights when booking a package holiday.
There could also be changes to passenger rights such as the EU261 (compensation for cancelled or delayed flights), and your rights if you have been denied boarding.
These might sound rather dull and mundane, but many of these sets of regulations and rights have been around in one form or another now for decades, and any changes to them could have a knock on effect over the next couple of years.
Baroness Vere did highlight that it would be in the government’s interest to push through any changes they wanted to make by the end of next year, especially if they internally concede they are not able to win the next General Election in 2024.
On the subject of the third runway, she said that it was purely up to Heathrow to decide how and when they wanted to build it, and doesn’t form part of government policy. So another ‘wait and see there’.