Inform passengers on flight delays over 30 minutes by SMS: DGCA tells airlines

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DGCA’s communiqué to airlines on Friday will ensure flight updates, refunds, redressal arrive fasterThe regulator also said that airlines must give all necessary assistance to the passengers for their connecting flights

New Delhi: The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has asked airlines to address social media complaints, ensure timely refunds and text-message passengers periodically about delays and gate changes, an official at the aviation regulator said Friday.

They were among measures to empower passengers that figured in a meeting DGCA director general Arun Kumar had on Thursday with appellate authority officials and nodal officers of all scheduled domestic airlines to discuss passenger grievance redressal systems.

“Prompt redressal of passenger complaints is the top-most priority and must be attended to as per the relevant provisions of the Civil Aviation Requirements (CARs),” the official said on condition of anonymity.

Airlines have been asked to keep passengers informed through text messages every half-an-hour whenever flights are delayed beyond 30 minutes or if the boarding gate is changed, the official said.

This will require offline travel agents to share passenger contact details with the airline, something they have resisted for fear of losing customers to airlines.

The regulator asked travel agents to share contact phone numbers of passengers with airlines, and directed airlines to maintain close coordination with them for flight information updates, the official said.

“In case of delay, airlines have been asked to make appropriate arrangements to provide water, refreshments and meals as per the provisions of CARs,” the official said, adding airlines must also provide all help to senior citizens and passengers facing mobility issues.

Airlines must also provide all necessary assistance for connecting flights.

“Airlines must ensure proper conduct and behaviour of their employees towards passengers,” the official said, adding that the DGCA will take a serious view of any laxity in following these guidelines.

DGCA data shows scheduled domestic airlines received 760 passenger-related complaints in August 2019, up from 688 a year ago. Interestingly, even with soaring air traffic, cancellation rates of scheduled domestic airlines fell to 1.61% in August 2019, down from 2.29% a year ago.

This was aided by the grounding of Jet Airways, Air Odisha and Zoom Air, which cancelled several flights during this period of the previous year.

At present, passengers can lodge complaints against airlines through the government-backed Airsewa portal and mobile application, apart from filing complaints on social media or writing directly to the regulator.

 

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