News Update


Holiday companies want the PM to enable the watchdog to punish airlines.

They urged for greater enforcement action in a joint letter with consumer organization Which? if airlines fail to protect consumer rights regarding refunds and cancellations.

It alleges that thousands of travelers have received “unfair treatment.”

According to the airline industry body, aviation is already highly regulated.

Due to concerns such as air traffic control constraints and wildfires on Rhodes and other Greek islands last summer, many holiday companies cancelled flights and package arrangements, leaving British tourists stranded.

If a service is disrupted, airlines are required to reroute customers – even on a competing airline – or to provide food, lodging, and, in some situations, reimbursements if a flight is cancelled.

The Department of Transport recently suggested that the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) be given more enforcement powers, including the ability to punish airlines that fail to meet their obligations.

However, the letter to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak alleges that too many people are being let down and asks him to provide a specific timeline for when this may occur.

The CAA supervises airlines in the United Kingdom, but it currently lacks the authority to penalise them directly.

Instead, it can seek an enforcement order from the courts to compel the airline to comply with regulations governing delays and reparations. If an airline refuses, the judicial process may result in the carrier incurring a fine.

Companies such as loveholidays, On the Beach, Riviera Travel, and Thomas Cook have urged Mr Sunak to use the King’s Speech in November to introduce legislation to strengthen the CAA’s powers.

‘Plans derailed’

“As a coalition of consumer advocates and travel companies,” the letter said, “we urge you to show your support for British holidaymakers affected by this summer’s air travel disruption by agreeing to strengthen the CAA’s enforcement powers.”

“This summer has seen the all-too-familiar sight of holidaymakers’ plans being ruined by air travel disruption; this time through UK and European strike action, thousands of summer flight cancellations, and the terrible environmental impact of wildfires.”

While acknowledging that some of these issues were beyond the airlines’ control, the group noted, “They are routinely failing to uphold their customers’ legal rights to rerouting and refunds, and provide clear and timely passenger information.”

Organizations such as the Advantage Travel Partnership and the Association of Independent Tour Operators also signed the letter.

They urged the prime minister to “take immediate and definitive action” on behalf of vacationers.

Following the letter to the prime minister, the administration declined to comment further on the Department of Transport’s suggestions.

Airlines in other countries, including the United States, have been fined millions of dollars for neglecting to pay reimbursements for cancelled flights during the Covid outbreak.

The CAA’s joint-interim CEO, Paul Smith, stated that the agency has “long called for a stronger enforcement toolkit to bring us in line with other UK regulators.”

“The recently announced plans by the government would achieve this and help ensure that the UK Civil Aviation Authority is better equipped to hold the industry accountable in meeting their obligations to passengers,” he added.

However, Airlines UK, the industry’s representative, stated that the business was “already a highly regulated and competitive sector, with airlines working hard to deliver for their customers.”

According to the industry association, the recent CAA customer survey indicated passenger satisfaction rates of 80%, which compared favorably to other modes of transportation.


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