Mon 8 Sept 2008 – MEPs have voted to tighten existing rules that govern travel computerized reservation systems (CRSs) used by travel agents across Europe. Primarily designed to encourage more competition so that consumers get a better deal, the revised Code of Conduct also proposes additional requirements that an alternative rail option is shown for air journeys of less than 90 minutes and that systems also provide information on CO2 emissions and fuel consumption of flights.
The existing Code includes strict requirements on non-discrimination between airlines which date from the time when the various CRSs, such as Amadeus and Sabre, were owned by the airlines themselves. In most cases, the CRSs are now independent from airlines and the strict rules now have the effect of stifling competition and raising costs, according to the European Commission.
CRSs will have to display all applicable taxes and charges to be paid by the traveller. This would bring more flexibility and fiercer competition between systems and protection from any market abuse or distortion, says the Commission, which could bring the price of tickets down by 10%.
The European Parliament’s Transport Committee proposed two ‘green’ amendments to the original Commission proposal that were subsequently adopted by MEPs in the first reading.
Firstly, for air journeys of up to 90 minutes, where travel options are ranked, and where train services for the same city-pair are offered on the CRS, at least the best ranked alternative train services, including connecting services, must feature on the first screen of the principal display. Where travel options serving the same departure and arrival cities are offered with connecting flights or the combination of scheduled air and rail services on the CRS, at least the best ranked option by scheduled air and rail service shall be featured on the first screen.
The second proposal “encourages” CRSs to provide easily understandable information about the CO2 emissions and fuel consumption of a flight. This could be shown via average fuel consumption data per person/litre/100km and average CO2 emissions per person/g/km, and could be compared with data of the best alternative train or bus connection for journeys of under five hours.
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