We started our Parent Trap petition last year after we realised how challenging it was to find the great family deals our subscribers ask for.
On 24 February, parliament debated what can and should be done about the cost of family travel during school holidays. A large number of MPs put forward passionate opinions on this issue. Suggestions, from us in our Parent Trap campaign and others, have included forcing holiday companies to cap their pricing during this period, scrapping or reducing Air Passenger Duty (APD, a tax on all outbound flights from the United Kingdom), staggering holidays across regions of the UK and re-thinking or rescinding the fines put in place in September of last year.
One of the main takeaways from the parliamentary session is the travel industry is no longer being vilified for their pricing. On the contrary, MPs understand the economics and how travel companies pass on the prices of their suppliers (hotels, airlines, etc). I believe the industry is very transparent. It was from this industry that price-comparison websites developed and other sectors have since adopted this technology. The truth, for most travel companies, is they sell at little margin or even a loss for most of the year and depend on the peak periods to make a profit. It is a balancing act to keep cashflow throughout the year, and we regularly see travel companies go out of business.
The staggering of school holidays and reversal of the law on fining seem the most likely options for further debate. Countries such as Germany and France already stagger holidays. However, prices in those markets still remain higher than off-peak, and fundamentally I don't believe either of these options will make holidays more accessible.
We admit that APD is not the most consumer-friendly angle, but the lowering or suspension of the tax during the summer holidays does offer government a credible means of supporting UK families. This was not debated, however, and would not be accepted by the Treasury. Our stance has not changed - we still believe APD is an unfair tax. People aren't even aware how much they're paying and where their money is going. UK travellers pay the highest rate in the world, 400% more than the next-highest EU country.
Ultimately we want to end the Parent Trap, or at least make holidays a little more affordable, so more families can spend valuable time off together. We will be continuing with our campaign and would urge people to support our petition.