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Passenger Rights Working Paper at the 38th Assembly

The Issue

Airlines are committed to looking after their passengers. The overlapping passenger rights regimes around the world create difficulties for the industry and confusion for passengers.

The patchwork of regimes defeats the purpose of providing passengers with clear, transparent rights that they can count on. Clear information to passengers on their rights should be the first priority of government and industry.

In response to this, the industry unanimously adopted a set of principles at the 2013 IATA Annual General Meeting, based on lessons learned from existing regimes and the need to strike a balance between adequate protections for passengers and industry sustainability.

The core principles

These principles offer a way for air transport stakeholders to seek greater convergence in the passenger rights. The principles call on governments to develop consumer protection regulations that

  • Are clear, unambiguous, aligned with international conventions, without extra-territorial implications and comparable with regimes in place for other modes of transport
  • Allow airlines the ability to differentiate themselves through their customer service offerings above a basic common standard
  • Ensure passenger access to information concerning their rights, fares, including taxes and charges, the actual operator of the flight, and regular situational updates in the case of service disruptions
  • Do not compromise the industry’s top priority of safety, and exonerate airlines from liability for safety-related delays and cancellations
  • In the case of denied boarding and cancellations, entitle passengers to re-routing, refunds or compensation where circumstances are within the airlines’ control
  • In the case of delays, entitle passengers to re-routing, refunds or care and assistance; and acknowledge that when such delays or disruptions are beyond the control of airlines, market forces should determine the care and assistance available to passengers.

What We Wanted from the 38th Assembly  

On behalf of the industry, IATA presented . The Working Paper provides an outline of the above passenger rights principles which we invite  the Assembly and its Member States to:

  • Request that ICAO, through the appropriate bodies, utilize the principles in Attachment 1 as the basis for the development of ICAO’s high-level non-prescriptive core principles on consumer protection
  • Invite member States to consider incorporating these principles into existing and future passenger rights regimes.

The Outcomes of the 38th Assembly

  • With the help of several states, the Commission maintained a high-level focus on consumer protection that is consistent with the Montreal Convention 1999 and strikes a balance between protecting passengers and ensuring industry competitiveness.
  • The industry principles, adopted at our AGM in Cape Town, will be taken into account by ICAO as it now begins this important work.

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Additional information

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