Author: 
P.K. ABDUL GHAFOUR | ARAB NEWS
Publication Date: 
Tue, 2011-01-11 01:04

“This is good news for passengers,” said Yasin Alireza, a Jeddah-based businessman, expressing hope that GACA will strictly implement the law on all airline companies to protect the rights of passengers.
He said the new law, which will be implemented within 10 days, would contribute to significantly reducing flight delays. “Such drastic measures are essential to make airlines ensure their flights take off on time,” Alireza told Arab News.
According to Article 19 of the new law, airline companies have to provide hotel accommodation to passengers at a cost of up to SR3,000 a day if they cancel flights and fail to provide alternative flights.
Passengers should be given hotel accommodation until they get another flight to their destinations, the law says. They should also be given a compensation of SR300 per hour without exceeding SR3,000, if they are not provided with replacement flights within six hours, the law says.
GACA will have the authority to cancel licenses of airline companies operating in the Kingdom if they fail to abide by Article 19. Violators will also be slapped a fine of up to SR50,000 per violation.
Passengers will have the right to have soft drinks if the flight is delayed for one hour, hot meals if delayed for three hours and hotel accommodation if delayed for more than six hours.
If a special needs passenger is refused boarding after his ticket has been issued and did not receive necessary facilities at the airport, he/she will have the right to get 200 percent of the ticket fare in addition to compensation for refusing to board the flight, the law says.
Badr Almotawa, a Saudi journalist, said the new law comes ahead of GACA’s plan to privatize international airports in the Kingdom. He said the new law would ensure the rights of both passengers and airline companies and prevent flight delays.
He hoped the law will help end the phenomenon of pilgrims being stranded at Jeddah airport during Haj and Umrah seasons every year. He urged GACA to make sure airlines follow regulations and provide required services to passengers without any negligence.
“We should have world-class services at our airports to enhance the Kingdom’s global reputation,” he added.
Air India Manager for the Western Region of Saudi Arabia Pravin Mistry said his airline has not yet received any circular from GACA regarding the new law. However, he said Air India would abide by the country’s rules and regulations without failure.
“No airline will delay their flights deliberately,” Mistry told Arab News. “I have not seen the law but hope that some delays caused by technical faults or climatic changes such as rains and fogs would be exempted,” he pointed out.
Mistry said most Air India flights from Jeddah leave on time. “We also provide our passengers with snacks, drinks and breakfasts as well as hotel accommodation whenever there is a delay in our flights,” he added.
Nizamuddin Kanhirala, manager of Transworld travel agency, said the law would help both passengers and airlines. “In some cases, flights are delayed by late passengers. Airlines wait for them to avoid losses,” he explained.
According to the law, if airlines inform passengers about the delay or change in flights 14 days before the flight, they would be exempted from paying compensation. Airport operators have been instructed to provide airline companies with necessary infrastructure facilities to serve their passengers.
Airline companies are also not responsible for flight delays because of natural calamities. However, they are required to inform passengers about flight delays and alternative flights. They should also provide a toll-free number for passengers to contact them to inquire about developments relating to their flights.

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