The Taskforce has also made recommendations around customer clarity and consumer confidence. This includes a new COVID-19 charter for travellers setting out consumer rights and responsibilities when booking travel while COVID-19 measures remain in place. Something of particular interest is the Taskforce’s comments that they expect the industry to “be flexible” in recognition of the impact the pandemic has on consumers’ bookings. The Taskforce also states that the UK government will put further measures in place to ensure, wherever possible, consumer monies are safe in case bookings are cancelled due to COVID-19 measures.
It will be interesting to see what further information is provided around these points, and, whether the Taskforce would recommend the implementation of additional legislation to protect consumer rights in these circumstances and if so, what this means for the travel industry in terms of legal considerations. It also remains to be seen whether any such additional obligations around protecting consumer monies in the event of cancellation will fall on the industry (and if so, which parts of the industry), or whether the government will step in with a guarantee fund of some kind. It’s worth noting that legislation linked to the pandemic has been implemented at lightning speed compared to normal times, and so these changes could come quickly.
Lastly, the report also confirmed that the CAA will receive enhanced enforcement powers against those airlines found to be breaching consumer rights, which will be detailed in the strategic framework for the aviation sector to be published later this year.