Middle East

Saudi’s GACA issues new consumer protection regulation

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The General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) issued a new Consumer Protection Executive Regulations to protect customers in the air transport industry.

The new regulations includes twenty item which aim to regulate the relationship between air carriers and passengers.  The regulations includes provisions to exercise care and provide compensation for consumers (passengers).  It stresses on the protection of customer’s rights especially those with special needs, where GACA approved a fine of twenty-five thousands Saudi Riyals if the air carrier, or airport operator, or ground service providers don’t meet the needs of special need passengers, or levy fees on them for service provided.

For his part the Assistant to GACA President for Safety, Security and Air Transport, Capt. Abdulhakim Albader stressed that GACA in its new regulations, is the forerunner in achieving a balance between air carriers rights on one hand and customers (passengers) on the other hand, where it was taking into account the observations and opinions of customers and air carries alike.  This was based on rules, regulations and agreements the in domestic, or international air transport industry.

In one of most prominent points of the new regulations, the determination of compensation for lost baggage, where the minimum compensation for each bag was established. The sum of 1700 Riyals for domestic flights and 2800 Saudi Riyals for international flights, with a maximum allowance of approximately 5900 Riyals.  It’s also determined the amount of compensation for each day of delay.  The regulations which will go into effect on the 8th of Dhual Qadah of this year will determine the services and care given to customers, whether in the event of cancellations, delays, or change of flights, it requires of the air carriers to secure accommodations for clients (passengers) in the event of canceled trips, provided that the duration of the delay is more than six hours from the original time of departure.  It also call for the provision of juices and soft drinks for the first hour of delay from the original time of departure, and the provision of hot meals in case of three hours delays.  It also provide for fines levy against the air carriers, the equivalent of (200%) of the total value of the ticket in the event they didn’t meet their commitment for the provision of services stipulated in the Regulation for clients with special needs.

The new regulations also covered the subject of dealing with overbooking as to ensure passengers rights.  In addition it covered flights cancellation and the need to inform passengers twenty-one days in advance.  It also went into detailed explanation about the fines and the need to comply with the regulations, flight delays, passengers with special needs and general provisions relating to passengers, as well as the responsibility of the application and interpretation of the new Regulations.

The new bylaws also clarified that the Consumer Protection Department is the competent and designated authority to receive passenger’s complaints against the air carriers, airport operators and ground service handlers, which falls within the scope of protection.  It also has a role to review complaints, analyze and help consumers and carriers in solving problems that deal with consumer protection.   The department also has a role in monitoring the implementation of these rules by the air carriers, the airport operator and the ground handlers.

The Consumer Protection Department also include the tasks of verifying irregularities, complaints and imposition of appropriate penalties.  One of its tasks is the supervision of clients and agencies working in the air transport sector in regards to their rights and ways to deal with them in accordance with the Consumer Protection Executive Regulations.

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