JEDDAH — There are specific provisions in the new regulations for the protection of the rights of passengers to guarantee all the rights of passengers with physical disability and special needs, Okaz/Saudi Gazette has learned. These include compensation worth 200 percent of airfare in the event of failure of providing them with the required travel facilities and services. The General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) is currently making finishing touches to the regulations.
The proposed regulations prohibit the air carrier from asking people with disabilities and special needs to sign for concessions; giving up the services or accommodation that they may obtain, or any waiver of responsibility related to damages or losses that they may suffer with regard to devices for their mobility. Compensation equivalent to 200 percent of the total value of the confirmed travel ticket shall be paid to them if the air carrier breaches its obligations with regard to the provision of appropriate flight facilities and services for the passenger with disabilities and special needs.
According to the draft regulations, the air carrier must comply with the schedule of the announced flights and the flight timings shown in the reservation, unless security and safety reasons require otherwise. The air carrier must inform the passenger about the flight delay at least 45 minutes before the time of departure, with a condition that the notification shall contain the new timing of departure.
According to the regulations, the air carrier is obliged to update the flight status and any additional delays on every 30 minutes, and the consecutive delay periods for the same flight are treated as one continuous period. The air carrier shall bear the costs of extending the passenger’s stay until the new travel date, in the event that the flight is delayed while the passenger is staying in an accommodation with paying the charges whether it is a hotel or any other residential unit for the same purpose.
The compensation resulting from the delay is calculated on the basis of the actual flight arrival time, compared to the arrival time specified in the reservation. Compensation is awarded on the basis of the equivalent of 50 Special Drawing Rights (SDR) units if the total duration of the flight delay is from three to six hours, and the equivalent of 150 SDR units if total duration of the flight delay is more. than six hours.
The passenger has the right to ask the air carrier to terminate the contract in the event that the flight’s departure is delayed for more than two hours and to refund the full value of the ticket, without deducting any amount. In the event that the flight delay extends for more than five hours, the passenger has the right to consider the flight as it is canceled and compensation is obtained, in accordance with the provisions of the cancellation contained in these regulations.
Compensation for tickets
Article 11 of the regulations stipulate that the passenger is entitled to get compensation when the flight is canceled by the air carrier in line with the following provisions:
The equivalent of 50 percent of the ticket value if the air carrier informs the passenger about the flight cancellation within the period from 60 days to 14 days before the time of departure; equivalent to 75 percent of the ticket value if the air carrier informs the passenger of the flight cancellation during the period from 14 days to 24 hours before the time of departure; equivalent to 150 percent of the ticket value if the air carrier informs the passenger of the flight cancellation within the period of 24 hours until the time of departure. The passenger is entitled to compensation equivalent to 200 percent of the ticket value upon termination of the contract with the air carrier, in addition to a refund of the ticket value.
The following categories of passengers must be allowed to board the plane under all circumstances:
People with disabilities and special needs whose travel requires making prior arrangements with the air carrier to complete their travel procedures and boarding the plane. These include the elderly, pregnant women, children, overweight people or those who have temporary difficulty in movement for medical reasons, first-degree relatives, in addition to the accompanying domestic worker, and the minor who does not have a companion.
Compensation for delay or loss of baggage
The passenger is also entitled to get compensation from the air carrier in the event that his baggage is delayed in reaching the final destination, under the following circumstances:
The equivalent of 148 SDRs when baggage arrives later than the arrival time specified in the reservation for the first day.
The equivalent of 60 SDRs for each day of delay, starting from the second day, with a maximum of 1,288 SDRs.
The passenger shall be compensated for the loss of his baggage with 1,288 SDRs. The traveler shall be compensated for damage or defect to his baggage not exceeding 1,288 SDRs.
The air carrier shall be exempted from providing compensation in the event that the defect or damage is a result of an inherent defect or an intrinsic defect in the baggage if the checked baggage does not arrive within 21 days from the date when it should have arrived.
The passenger has the right to demand that the air carrier shall treat such baggage as lost. If the passenger desires to increase the amount of compensation in the event of the baggage containing valuable items, he must disclose to the air carrier about it and its value before handing it over to the air carrier as registered baggage through the prescribed forms.
Compensation is calculated on the basis of the value declared in the disclosure form. Each piece of baggage, as well as each additional piece, is treated separately as excess baggage with the prescribed compensation.
Provision of passenger care
Under Article 17 of the regulations, which includes care and support, the air carrier shall provide care for passengers in the event of refusal of boarding, canceling or delaying flight service. This will be through provision of the following: Refreshments and drinks starting from the first hour, and a suitable meal if the delay exceeds three hours from the time of departure. Hotel accommodation and transportation to and from the airport for each passenger if the delay exceeds six hours from the time of departure.
Article 23 of the regulations stipulates that GACA’s Passengers’ Rights Protection Department is responsible for applying and interpreting the provisions of this regulation and supervising its implementation. It also included punishing the air carrier with a fine of not more than SR50000 for violating the provisions of this regulation.
The passenger may also file a lawsuit with the competent court to assess the extent of damage, and the amount of compensation for subsequent damages resulting from the air carrier’s non-compliance with the terms and conditions of the transportation contract concluded between the air carrier and the passengers.