Air transport sector: new core principles on consumer protection adopted by ICAO

Man with a boarding pass

Last June 2015 during its 205th session, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Council adopted global core principles on air transport consumer protection in order to foster harmonization in air transport regulation worldwide.

These principles refer to three phases of a customer’s experience: before, during and after travel.

Before traveling, the ICAO core principles recommend that passengers should benefit from sufficient levels of prior information and customer guidance, given the wide variety of air transport products in the market and associated legal and other protection which may apply. Product and price transparency is also suggested as a basic customer right.

During travel, the ICAO core principles call for passengers to be provided with regular updates on any special circumstances or service disruptions which may arise, as well as due attention in the event  of a service disruption. This could include rerouting, refund, care, and/or compensation. The core principles also call on airlines and other stakeholders to have planning in place for situations of massive disruption characterized by multiple flight cancellations, and reiterate the fundamental right to fair access for persons with disabilities. In particular the latter, without derogating from aviation safety, must have access to air transport in a non-discriminatory manner and to appropriate assistance.

After travelling, the ICAO core principles recommended that efficient complaint handling procedures be established and that they be clearly communicated to customers.

This marks an important step for air transport consumer protection as from now on the ICAO core principles will be taken into consideration by the 191 ICAO  Member States and implemented when they develop or review their national regimes.