Government confirms increased powers for CAA and more rights for passengers

Air passenger rights CAA
By Lisa James
27/06/2023
Home » Government confirms increased powers for CAA and more rights for passengers

Proposals by the Government to ensure air passengers get better protection have been published today.

The plans give the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) stronger enforcement powers, including the ability to fine airlines for breaching rules.

They also provide a cheaper dispute resolution system for passengers and boost the rights of disabled travellers in claiming compensation for damaged equipment.

It will become mandatory for airlines flying to and from the UK to join an approved Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) body, giving consumers a way to escalate complaints that cannot be settled without the need to go to court.

At the moment, there are two ADR providers in the UK and airlines can join voluntarily.

In addition, the proposals will see disabled passengers getting ‘full and fair compensation’ for damage caused to wheelchairs on UK domestic flights and airlines will be ‘encouraged’ to do the same on international flights.

At present airlines are not required to cover the full cost of repairs, even if the equipment is damaged while in their care.

Ground handlers will be offered new training to make sure mobility equipment is being handled properly, in a bid to cut the number of incidents altogether.

CAA Joint-Interim Chief Executive Paul Smith said: “We welcome the announcement from Government today to enhance the rights of air passengers, alongside strengthening the enforcement powers of the CAA and making ADR mandatory.

“We have long called for a stronger enforcement toolkit to bring us in line with other regulators.”

The Disabled People’s Transport Advisory Committee (DPTAC) said it welcomed the proposals.

Consumer champion Which? wants to see a single ombudsman to oversee passenger complaints, but said the plans for mandatory ADR are a ‘step in the right direction’.

Director of Policy and Advocacy Rocio Concha said: “Which? has led the campaign for much needed reforms in the travel sector, including fining powers for the CAA and a mandatory dispute resolution system to ensure travellers can resolve complaints easily without the need to escalate them to the small claims court.

“Travellers have had their rights routinely neglected by law-breaking airlines in recent years, so it is positive to see the Government supporting these changes, and proposing  stronger measures for damaged mobility equipment on domestic flights.

“The Prime Minister must now show he is on the side of passengers and urgently set out legislation to make these increased powers for the CAA a reality – ensuring the regulator has the power to fine airlines directly when they flout the law.

“This will be essential to not only strengthen consumer confidence in the sector after a chaotic few years for travellers, but will also ensure the rights of disabled passengers can be properly enforced going forwards.

“While plans for mandatory ADR are a step in the right direction, Which? urges the Government to go further, and introduce a single ombudsman for the sector in any legislation on ADR, which will ensure passengers are guaranteed a fair and impartial service.”

The proposals are in response to a Department for Transport (DfT) consultation on Aviation Consumer Policy Reform published in January 2022,

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