(L.N. 80 of 2020)
- An amendment has been introduced to the Package Travel and Linked Travel Arrangement Regulations (S.L.409.19), this seemingly to mitigate against the negative effects that COVID-19 continues to have on the travel industry.
The amendment temporarily extends a time limit imposed on organisers of travel packages to pay refunds for cancellations from 14 days after cancellation, to 6 months after cancellation.
- S.L.409.19 applies to traders who combine and sell or offers for sale packages, either directly or through another trader or together with another trader, or the trader who transmits the traveller’s data to another trader.
The Regulations provide for a traveller’s right to terminate package travel contracts before the start of the package without paying any termination fee in the event of unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances occurring at the place of destination or its immediate vicinity and significantly affecting the performance of the package, or which significantly affect the carriage of passengers to the destination. In the event of termination of the package travel contract under this paragraph, the traveller shall be entitled to a full refund of any payments made for the package, but shall not be entitled to additional compensation.
Conversely, the Regulations also provide that an organiser of a package may terminate the package travel contract and provide the traveller with a full refund of any payments made for the package, but shall not be liable for additional compensation, if certain conditions are met, including (but not only) if the organiser is prevented from performing the contract because of unavoidable and extraordinary circumstances and notifies the traveller of the termination of the contract without undue delay before the start of the package.
In both the above-mentioned instances, when either the traveller or the organiser opt to cancel the package, the organiser is, as general rule, obliged to refund the traveller within 14 days after the package travel contract is terminated.
This rule is transposed from Directive 2015/2302 of the European Parliament and of the Council on package travel and linked travel arrangements, amending Regulation (EC) No 2006/2004 and Directive 2011/83/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council and repealing Council Directive 90/314/EEC.
- By virtue of this new amendment, the 14-day limit set out in the Regulations is effectively being waived in respect of any refund required as a result of termination of package travels when such termination occurred or occurs between the 1st of March 2020 and 31st May 2020 (both dates included).
- However, the amendment provides that the refund must nonetheless be paid by the organiser by no later than 6 months after the package travel contract is terminated.