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Abu Dhabi’s Global Aerospace Summit to hear call for cross-national co-ordination on passenger rights

22 February 2016 - Abu Dhabi, UAE: Next month’s Global Aerospace Summit in Abu Dhabi will hear a call for cross-national co-operation on passenger rights as C-suite executives to the biennial aviation, aerospace, defence and space gathering examine how to improve the customer service experience and whether it will really win airlines new business.

Consumer protection will figure in the debate with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) warning that loose cross-national co-operation is muddying the picture on passenger rights.

“Without much better country coordination on consumer protection regulations, providing clarity to passengers is unachievable. On some international itineraries, as many as three different sets of rules can apply. That creates confusion and adds to stress levels of already inconvenienced passengers. Rules should adopt a ‘smarter regulation approach’ and be consistent with existing international conventions, address the root causes of travel disturbances, be transparent, and subject to a rigorous cost-benefit analysis,” said IATA’s Senior Vice President, Member External Relations Paul Steele.

IATA says that currently, over 60 countries have a variation of passenger protections— some that border on extraterritorial – yet all seek the same outcomes.

“Passengers, governments and airlines all have the same goal – to get to destinations safely, reliably and on-time. That is often forgotten in drafting consumer protection rules. This can often result in regulations which reduce customer protection and convenience – through higher fares, less choice, and more confusion—and also raise costs for airlines who must comply with a plethora of differing and often conflicting regulatory regimes,” explained IATA’s Assistant Director, External Affairs, Chaitan Jain.
Jain says that with more countries allowing for more rules, each regulation carries different levels of liability and outlines a need for governments to develop consumer protection regulations that are unambiguous, accessible to consumers, and comparable with regimes in place for other modes of transport.

“It is important that a balance is struck between protecting passengers and industry competitiveness. IATA remains committed to actively engaging with consumer protection bodies around the world in a dialogue to find balanced solutions,” he concluded.
The issue of passenger rights will be aired alongside a raft of customer service issues across the entire travel chain and seek to resolve whether price or improved experiences will drive future business.

“Customer service has been a hotly contested issue within the airline industry recently with some carriers convinced it is the bedrock of growing their business and passenger loyalty, while others contend it is putting undue pressure on their bottom lines,” said Nick Webb, Managing Partner of Summit organisers Streamline Marketing Group (SMG). “This dedicated session will look at the myriad of service factors including changes in passenger bookings, how they are affecting airline competitiveness and what it all means for airline and OEM strategy.”

The Summit, which will run on March 7 and 8 at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), will see C-Suite leaders from the aviation, aerospace, defence and space industries debate and analyse their specific sector trends and needs as well as focus on the two key emerging aviation markets of Saudi Arabia and Africa.

Hosted by Mubadala Development Company, the 2016 Summit, the third in the series, is part of the inaugural Abu Dhabi Aviation and Aerospace Week, which is held under the patronage of His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. Abu Dhabi Airports Company is backing the Summit as an official event partner with Etihad Airways as its official airline.

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