News

IATA: No passenger to be left behind

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has launched a new customer protection agreement to assist stranded passengers flying to, from or within Europe to return home in the case of airline bankruptcy.

The voluntary agreement on behalf of IATA members will cover the repatriation of passengers when airlines cease operations as a result of financial failure, but is limited to those flying to and from the EU.

“I am delighted to say that passengers left stranded in the rare and unfortunate event of an airline bankruptcy will be offered ‘rescue fares’ from airlines to ensure they can get home, “ IATA director general and ceo, Tony Tyler said.

The agreement formalises a long-standing custom that many airlines have traditionally offered in these circumstances.

IATA member airlines flying to and from the EU “will make their best efforts to offer repatriation”, and will offer discounted ‘rescue fares’ of a nominal amount for purchase up to a maximum of two weeks after the event to anyone flying to and from or within Europe who do not have insurance covering airline bankruptcy.

IATA also said countries responsible for licencing of the insolvent airline should communicate the ‘rescue fares’ to stranded passengers.

“This agreement on rescue fares shows that the airline industry is more determined than ever to ensure reliable and consistently excellent customer service. Airlines have formalised a unique cooperation agreement that puts passenger needs first,” Tyler said.

Between 2011 and 2020, only 0.07% of all passengers could be affected by airline bankruptcy, and of them, only 12% would require assistance in getting home, according to the European Commission. 

The topic of a permanent statutory fund to aid passengers in such situations has been highlighted in the past, with the airline industry opposing the notion as financially stable airlines would be subsidising ‘riskier airlines’ and an estimated 85% of the money would be eaten up in administration costs.

“A compulsory levy on airlines to deal with repatriation would not serve anybody’s interest. We commend the European Commission for resisting this and for encouraging airlines to adopt this coordinated and customer-focused approach,” Tyler said.

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