Consultation paper made available to stakeholders

An aviation ombudsman, on the lines of the one in banking, insurance, and power sectors is on the anvil as a dispute settlement mechanism for flyers.

The Union Ministry of Civil Aviation would involve all stakeholders in setting up the institution. A consultation paper, worked out on the basis of the recommendation of a working group, set up under the Civil Aviation Economic Advisory Council, in 2011, was made available to stakeholders recently.

In view of its sensitive nature to take all concerned into confidence, official sources said the stakeholders had been asked to give their comments on setting up an ombudsman by April 15.

The mechanism had been recommended in view of the rising number of complaints from air passengers, passenger associations, consumer groups, and cargo facility users against deficiencies in service by airlines and airports.

A recent passenger traffic forecast had suggested a surge in air passenger traffic in the country by 2020. The domestic traffic segment was expected to touch 165 million passengers. The number of international passengers from the country would be around 92 million per annum, the forecast said.

Traffic growth

The high rate of growth in traffic was expected to be impact the mechanism for redressal of grievances.

Data made available by the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had shown that 9,440 complaints were received by the scheduled domestic airlines in 2012 and the maximum number was on baggage related issues.

From the 1,000 complaints received per month, it could be gathered that service delivery was deficient, sources said. With consumer courts getting inundated with complaints, it had been pointed out that the aviation-related dispute redressal was turning extremely expensive, time consuming, and cumbersome for passengers, sources said.

But, the consultation paper was not clear on who would be covered, the nature of disputes, and the upper limits of award of compensation.

The analysis of the nature and extent of consumer complaints and regulations governing the redressal machinery of airlines and airports had been dealt with in the consultation paper.

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