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IATA talks to consumer forums on transparent laws


Miami (US):  Airlines’ body IATA has begun a dialogue with governments, air travellers and consumer rights bodies across the world to evolve transparent regulations to enable passengers to understand their rights and prevent ignoring of basic commercial principles by the governments.

“The growing patchwork of consumer rights regimes is leaving travellers confused when they are subject to multiple different passenger rights regimes at the same time. We need an air transport system that balances the need to protect consumers while allowing the airline industry to compete and innovate,” Paul Steele, IATA’s Senior Vice President for Member and External Relations, told reporters here.

He said there were now over 60 countries with some form of passenger rights regulations, with more governments considering new rules.

“Consumer protection is not about winners and losers. Everybody wants the passenger to get to his or her destination safely and on schedule. And in an intensely competitive business such as aviation, when things go wrong, airlines have a natural incentive to keep their customers happy — as is the case in any service industry,” Steele said.

“Looking at the nature of some of the regulations being produced, it seems that some governments are ignoring basic commercial principles. They are producing regulations that do not address the root causes of many travel disruptions. In light of this, IATA and the airlines need to contribute a new perspective to the conversation on consumer protection,” he said.

Maintaining that IATA was actively engaging consumer protection bodies around the world in a dialogue aimed at finding a balanced solution, Steele said, “the industry has produced materials to help governments and travellers better appreciate the issues arising from consumer protection regulations”, apart from seeking to understand more clearly what governments are hearing from their customers.

These materials are focussed on issues of airline punctuality, mishandled baggage and “confusing consumer protection regulations”, he said.

These would call for regulations to be clear so that passengers can understand their rights, call upon airlines to ensure that their passengers are always kept informed and establish efficient complaint handling procedures, recommending that passenger entitlements are proportional in a situation of service breakdown and asking the governments to be consistent while preparing regulations which should not be contradictory to passengers’ rights, he added.

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