Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Illinois: another law suit aganist YTB

The Califonia law suit was barely setteled when Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed a similar law suit against YTB: again YTB is charged with operating an "unlawful pyramid sales scheme." Illinois charged that YTB violates the state’s Consumer Fraud Act by misrepresenting that it is a travel agency "when in fact the primary function of the business is building a downline." Illinois is seeking civil penalties of $50,000 for each violation of the Consumer Fraud Act.

Source: Travel Weekly; find article here>>.

Friday, May 15, 2009

South Korea: specific Visa for Medical Tourists

South Korean government is introducing a new category of visa for tourists who visit the country for medical purposes. The foreign medical tourist visa, M, is adopted in a bid to boost the nation's medical tourism industry as local hospitals and medical institutes have strongly requested the government to simplify the visa issuance process. According to the Ministry for Health, Welfare and Family Affairs, the new visa will be issued from Monday in two forms, C3 (M), a 90-day visa for those with short-term treatment purposes, and G1 (M), a one-year visa for those who need long-term care.

Source: www.xihunaet.com; find article here>>.

European Union: Airlines move to clean up ticket selling websites

New EU results published yesterday show a "step change" in airline ticket selling websites across Europe in terms of compliance with consumer protection rules. The findings feature in a final report on an 18 month EU-wide process to crackdown on misleading advertising and unfair practices. As a result of an EU enforcement investigation started in September 2007 – with 15 EU national authorities and Norway - 115 airline websites out of the 137 websites investigated have been corrected. Following an additional "health check" process involving independent mystery shopping in March 2009 on 67 major airlines, 52 airlines have either been given a "clean bill of health" and undertaken to maintain the same standards or immediately responded to the Commission's consultation with undertakings to remedy outstanding issues. The health check process checked websites against a comprehensive 14 point checklist, which was previously agreed with the airline industry. The Commission is now working to put in place an industry wide agreement to provide a level playing field for airlines across the EU and to maintain sites to a high standard.

Source: EU press release IP/09/783; find full text here>>.

California: YTB case settled

The state of California's lawsuit against the multilevel marketing travel company YTB and its founders (see posting of Jan. 8, 2009) has been settled.

In addition to paying $1 million in penalties costs and restitution, YTB will have more difficulty selling websites to prospective travel sellers. Plus, limits were imposed on recruiters’ earning potential. YTB also has to register with California as a franchise business.

Source: Travel Weekly; find article here>>.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Australia: holiday makers warned on using unlicensed travel agents

The Australian Travel Compensation Fund says booking with a licensed agent is “more important than ever'”as more businesses struggle in the tough economic climate. The TCF has exceeded $50 million in payments to Australian travellers who have been left out of pocket after their travel agencies collapsed. However, travellers are eligible for financial protection only if they used a licensed agent. The TCF was set up in 1986 to provide a safety net for travellers who would lose money if a travel agency collapsed or became insolvent.

Source: news.com.au; find article here>>.

USA: FlyersRights.org accuses some airlines of trapping passengers during diversions

As the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) released its sixth monthly data installment for diverted commercial airline flights – flights that make unscheduled stops before they reach their final destinations, either to refuel, or because of a weather problem or some other in-flight emergency - a FlyersRights.org analysis shows that some airlines routinely denied passengers the opportunity to deplane at a diverted airport, while others almost always gave passengers the option to wait out the diversion in the comfort of an airport terminal.

FlyersRights.org is lobbying Congress to adopt a rule that would allow passengers the opportunity to deplane if delayed on the ground for 3 hours or more for any reason, including flight diversions.

Source: FlyersRights.org

Monday, May 11, 2009

European Union: airline take-off slot rules to be changed

Current rules force airlines to use the time slots at busy airports at least 80 percent of the time or face losing them the following season. After the European Parliament agreed to loosen these "use-or-lose rules", airlines will gain more flexibility in how they use take-off and landing slots: They will be entitled to the same series of slots during the summer 2010 season as were allocated in 2009, regardless of how much they use them.

Source: AEA information

UNWTO: Taleb Rifai to be Secretary-General 2010-2013

The 85th session of the UNWTO Executive Council, meeting in Mali, recommended Taleb Rifai for the post as Secretary-General for the four-year-period starting January 2010. The candidature of Mr. Rifai (Jordan) was supported by the Executive Council, in accordance with the UNWTO statutes. The recommendation will be presented for ratification by the UNWTO General Assembly, meeting the first week of October in Astana, Kazakhstan.

Mr. Rifai has an extensive background in international and national public service, the private sector and academia.

Source: UNWTO press release of May 7, 2009

German Supreme Court: No Compensation under Reg. 216/2004 if Connecting Flight is Missed due to Delay of Feeder

In a judgment of April 30, 2009 (Xa ZR 78/08), German Supreme Court (BGH) held that the miss of a connecting flight due to a delay of the feeder (both flights operated by the same airline and jointly booked as parts of one and the same contract for carriage) would not constitute "denied boarding" under Reg. 261/2004.

BGH reasoned that a right to compensation would require the passenger to
  • prove confirmed booking
  • have appeared at check-in in time and
  • a refusal of carriage against the passenger's will despite him being present at the gate.
These requirements were not fulfilled if the passenger due to the delay of the feeder did not present himself for check-in and/or boarding in time.

Despite of the different view of some other German courts (LG Berlin, RRa 2008, 42; OLG Hamburg, 6 U 94/07; LG Leipzig 6 S 319/08), BGH regarded the issue as "non-ambiguous" and therefore saw no reason to make a reference fo preliminary ruling of the European Court of Justice.

Source: press release 93/2009 by BGH; available in German here>>.