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IATA Calls for Wholesale Review of Consumer Protection Laws

The International Air Transport Association wants many international consumer protections to be reviewed in the name of improving the aviation space, including the European Commission’s EC261.
The International Air Transport Association wants the United States, European Commission, and others to reconsider their approach to consumer protections in a post-pandemic world.


The call for reviews comes out of the organization’s 79th Annual General Meeting and World Air Transport Summit, being held in Istanbul.


IATA Claims Current Laws Cost Customers More Over Long Run

According to the group’s analysis, regulations designed to help travelers find their flights cancelled or delayed are doing just the opposite. In the case of the European Commission’s EC261, the group claims that paying out passengers has been interpreted 70 different ways by the European Court of Justice and adds unnecessary cost to the airlines.


Instead, the group says that the law needs to be reconsidered so that the compensation is more equally distributed. IATA wants some of the liability to be passed on to airports and air navigation service providers.


“In refusing to address the issue of distributing accountability more evenly across the system, EU261 has entrenched the service failings of some actors who have no inducement to improve,” said Willie Walsh, director general of IATA. “A classic example is the more than 20-year lack of progress toward the Single European Sky, which would significantly reduce delays and airspace inefficiency across Europe.”


But EC261 is not the only regulation that IATA says needs a closer look. After the U.S. Department of Transportation suggested a new set of rules to help stranded flyers, the group says that the federal government is working on “a solution in search of a problem.”


“It’s easy for a politician to regulate a new passenger rights law, it makes them look like they’ve achieved something,” said Walsh. “But every new unnecessary regulation is an anchor on the cost-efficiency and competitiveness of air transport. It takes a brave regulator to look at the situation and recognize when ‘less is more’.”


IATA Survey Claims Flyers Happy with Service

The call for law review comes as the trade organization says flyers are happier with carriers than ever – a fact disputed by the recent J.D. Power 2023 North American Airline Satisfaction Study. A IATA/Motif survey of 47,000 flyers found 96% said they were either “very” or “somewhat” satisfied with their overall flight experience, while 91% agreed with the statement: “All parties involved in the delay or cancellation (airlines, airports, air traffic control) should play a role in helping the affected passengers”


Learn about your rights under EC261 and other consumer protections on the FlyerTalk Forums.

EmberEnigma June 8, 2024

It's interesting to see such a high satisfaction rate from the IATA/Motif survey, but it makes me wonder about the discrepancy with the J.D. Power study. Are passengers truly happier, or are there underlying issues not being captured? Also, the idea of shared responsibility for delays and cancellations is promising. It would be great to see more collaboration among airlines, airports, and air traffic control to improve passenger experiences. What are your thoughts on these differing survey results?

Arctic Troll June 21, 2023

Willie Walsh, the man who destroyed BA, wanting to roll away all the protections for consumers?In other news, rain is wet.

StuckInYYZ June 7, 2023

Of course the IATA is going to say people are happy with the airlines.  Really have to wonder how badly the data had to be mangled to get this "outcome".  Let's try another wild fantasy Willie.