In a bid to strengthen the aviation sector and bolster the economy, the government has unveiled new proposals today. That promise enhanced protection for airline passengers when things go wrong during their journeys. These measures, which include stronger enforcement powers for regulators and access to faster and more affordable dispute resolution. Aim to raise the standards for all passengers on flights to and from the UK, ultimately increasing passenger confidence.
One of the key focuses of the proposals is addressing concerns raised regarding disabled passengers who have experienced damage to their wheelchairs while travelling. The new measures guarantee that these passengers will receive full and fair compensation for any damage caused on domestic flights within the UK. Additionally, airlines will be encouraged to waive compensation caps for international flights.
Under the current regulations, airlines are not obligated to cover the entire cost of repairs, even if the equipment is damaged while under their care. Recognizing the importance of rectifying this issue. Transport Secretary Mark Harper stated that it is crucial for everyone to travel with confidence and commended the efforts of airlines in providing quality services. The new proposals aim to push for further improvements for passengers.
The Department for Transport will also introduce training programs for ground handlers to ensure the proper handling of mobility equipment. Thereby preventing such incidents from occurring in the first place.
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mandatory for all airlines
Paul Smith, Joint-Interim Chief Executive at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, expressed support for the government’s announcement. Noting that it would enhance the rights of air passengers and strengthen the enforcement powers of the authority. Smith emphasized the importance of equal access to air travel and encouraged UK airlines to adopt the proposed changes for all flights, not just domestic ones.
The plans also make Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mandatory for all airlines. ADR provides passengers with a means to escalate complaints that cannot be resolved directly with the airline, without resorting to court proceedings. Currently, membership in an ADR body is voluntary for UK airlines. However, under the new proposals, all airlines operating to, from, and within the UK will be required to join an approved ADR body. Ensuring that consumers have access to this dispute-resolution route regardless of the airline they choose.
Tanvi Vyas, Aviation Group Lead at the Disabled People’s Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC), welcomed the government’s commitment to providing better safeguards for disabled travellers on domestic flights. Vyas highlighted the importance of compensation for damaged mobility equipment. Emphasized the need to extend this protection to international flights. Vyas also praised the introduction of free training programs and a ground handlers training video. That aims to raise awareness and understanding of the impact of damage to mobility equipment.
These proposals are the government’s response to its aviation consumer policy reform consultation. It was published in January 2022. By aiming to improve air passenger travel standards in the UK. These measures seek to safeguard the interests of both consumers and airlines. The Civil Aviation Authority will be empowered with increased enforcement capabilities. Including the ability to issue fines for breaches of consumer protection laws, and ensuring fair treatment for all passengers.