Travellers’ rights to be outlined under government’s passenger charter
The guide hopes to mend confidence in air travel following the pandemic and will be developed alongside industry and consumer groups.
The charter is part of a 10-point plan to rebuild the aviation sector from the pandemic.
An Aviation Council will also be created to support the strategy, helping airlines, airports and the government to learn lessons from Covid and grow back sustainably, the government said.
Critics welcomed the measures but said the opportunity to help enforce the existing rights of consumers has been missed.
Rocio Concha, director of policy and advocacy at consumer group Which, said: “Poor treatment of passengers by some airlines has become routine – as we saw with carriers ignoring their legal obligations on refunds, rerouting and passenger rights during the pandemic and recent chaos at our airports.
“There is much work to be done to restore consumer trust and the government must deliver reforms that work for passengers. The new aviation council would be better placed to improve the travel experience with passenger and consumer groups as members.
“While a passenger charter is welcome, what passengers really need is a regulator to enforce the rights they already have. That’s why Which has been calling for the Civil Aviation Authority to be given direct fining powers, so it can effectively hold carriers to account when they flout the law.
“We also urge the department for transport to drop its plans to significantly water down passenger rights to compensation for UK domestic flights. These rights, as well as ensuring fairness for consumers, offer an important deterrent against flight cancellations which must be preserved.”
The government’s 10-point plan aims to support jobs, consumers and innovation in aviation and the UK ‘the best place in the world for general aviation’.
As part of the plan, growth in airport capacity and better technology for the sector will also be backed.
Aviation minister Robert Courts said: “The pandemic posed an existential threat to the aviation sector. Now recovery has started, we have a chance to build back better than ever before.
“Through this new strategy, I’m setting out 10 priorities to ensure we build an industry that’s not only fit for the future but one that’s world-leading.
“By working closely with the sector to focus on sustainable growth, powered by the latest innovations, we can ensure aviation creates jobs and opportunities across all 4 nations of the UK.”
Richard Moriarty, chief executive of the UK Civil Aviation Authority, added: “As aviation recovers, we share government’s ambitions for the sector to build back to become cleaner, greener, more innovative and to continue prioritising safety and delivering for its consumers.
“The established and emerging aviation and aerospace sectors and their stakeholders will need to work together to deliver this and I’m looking forward to the Civil Aviation Authority being part of that collective effort.”