Friday, December 1, 2023

New Saudi passenger rights rules take effect

Saudi Arabia’s strengthened passenger protection regulations have come into force, covering millions of passenger journeys taken within and from Saudi Arabia, the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) has announced.

The new GACA regulations are designed to create a better travel experience, providing greater support at each stage of the passenger’s journey in the event of travel disruptions.

GACA has initiated the “Putting Passengers First” consumer education campaign to educate passengers on their strengthened protections, and the importance of contacting their airline to use their rights in the event of a disruption. If passengers don’t receive an adequate response in seven days, they can ask GACA to investigate their complaint.

Eng Abdulaziz bin Abdullah Al Dahmash, the Vice President of GACA for Quality and Passenger Experience, emphasised the importance of these regulations, stating: “From now, passengers travelling in and from the Kingdom have enhanced protections when they are affected by travel disruptions resulting from airline delays. GACA encourages passengers to learn about the strengthened passenger rights communicated through GACA’s “Putting Passengers First” campaign, and to contact their airline when they face a disruption.

“These changes reflect GACA’s focus on putting the passenger first, through regulations that create better choice, value and service quality for passengers. By enabling a better travel experience, these regulations support the Kingdom’s broader Saudi Aviation Strategy growth agenda.” added Al Dahmash.

The new regulations encompass 30 new provisions that cover every stage of the air travel journey, covering ticketing, boarding, in-flight services, baggage handling, and catering to passengers with special needs, including those with reduced mobility. Compensation provisions have been strengthened and extended through the regulations, addressing situations like flight delays, cancellations, overbooking, and unexpected stopovers.

The regulatory changes were announced by GACA on August 23 and have taken effect following the 90-day notice period for new regulations.  GACA has worked with domestic and international carriers to prepare for the implementation of the regulations.

The regulations are a key component in enabling the aviation sector’s Saudi Aviation Strategy targets, including tripling passenger numbers to 330 million per annum and connecting the Kingdom with more than 250 global destinations by 2030. The Kingdom is experiencing unprecedented aviation sector growth, to support the Kingdom’s broader Vision 2030 tourism, travel and economic diversification objectives, GACA SAID.

Meanwhile, the Saudi Aviation Strategy is transforming the entire Saudi aviation ecosystem to become the number one aviation sector in the Middle East by 2030, enabled by Vision 2030 and in line with the Kingdom’s National Transport and Logistics Strategy.

The strategy is unlocking $100 billion in private and government investment across the Kingdom’s airports, airlines and aviation support services. The strategy will extend Saudi Arabia’s connectivity from 99 to more than 250 destinations across 29 airports, triple annual passenger traffic to 330 million, establish two global long-haul connecting hubs, and increase air cargo capacity to 4.5 million tons. 

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