The International Air Transport Association (IATA) called for consumer protection regulation to address the responsibility shared by all stakeholders when passengers experience disruptions and released survey data showing most passengers trust airlines to treat them fairly in cases of delays and cancellations.

Whenever there is a delay or a cancellation, where specific passenger rights regulations exist, the burden of care and compensation falls on the airline, regardless of which part of the aviation chain is at fault. IATA therefore urged governments to ensure that responsibility for flight issues is shared more equitably across the air transport system.

Consumer protection regulation

“The aim of any passenger rights regulation surely should be to drive better service. So it makes little sense that airlines are singled out to pay compensation for delays and cancellations that have a broad range of root causes, including air traffic control failures, strikes by non-airline workers, and inefficient infrastructure. With more governments introducing or strengthening passenger rights regulations, the situation is no longer sustainable for airlines. And it has little benefit for passengers because it does not encourage all parts of the aviation system to maximise customer service. On top of this, as costs need to be recouped from passengers, they end up funding this system. We urgently need to move to a model of ‘shared accountability’ where all actors in the value chain face the same incentives to drive on-time performance,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.

Economic deregulation of the airline industry has brought huge benefits over decades, increasing consumer choice, reducing fares, expanding route networks and encouraging new entrants. Unfortunately, a trend of re-regulation threatens to undo some of these advances, argued IATA.

In the area of consumer protection, more than a hundred jurisdictions have developed unique consumer regulations, with at least a dozen more governments looking to join the group or toughen what they already have.
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