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Published on Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Loveholidays becomes second major OTA to quit ABTA

Loveholidays has resigned from ABTA just days after rival online travel agent On the Beach gave up its membership of the travel association.

ABTA had launched an investigation into both OTAs after they refused to fully refund passengers for holidays to Spain after the Foreign Office (FCDO) advised against all non-essential travel.

TravelMole understands that both companies were given until yesterday to comply with ABTA's refund rules or leave.

In a statement issued today, loveholidays said: "Unfortunately, as a result of our divergent views on the legal position regarding cancellations and refunds, we have decided that it is no longer possible for loveholidays to remain a member of ABTA."

The OTA reassured customers that all package holidays booked with loveholidays remain financially protected by the ATOL scheme.

Loveholidays claims that package travel legislation 'was never designed to deal with disruption on the scale we have seen since March 2020'.

Like On the Beach, it's policy is only to refund customers for the flight element of a package they want to cancel due to travel restrictions if and when it receives a refund from the airlines. However, where airlines are continuing to operate flights to destinations covered by a travel advisory, most are refusing cash refunds.

ABTA has told all its members that it must fully refund customers who want to cancel packages if the FCDO is advising against all non-essential travel.

In a statement, ABTA said: "Loveholidays has chosen to resign from ABTA membership following ongoing discussions about refunds due to customers when the Foreign Office advice changes to advise against all, or all but essential travel to a destination. ABTA is firm in its position that the longstanding practice of offering a full refund when the Foreign Office advises against travel still stands."

Loveholidays said: "We believe the priority for everyone in the travel industry should be to come up with a workable, fair solution to help holidaymakers get their money back as quickly as possible.

"Speeding up the refund process for airlines must be a key part of this solution, and we urge the entire industry to focus on working together to make this possible."

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