Business News of Thursday, 14 September 2017

Source: citibusinessnews.com

Aviation Authority cracks whip on non-compliant airlines

The Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) will from October 2017 severely punish all airlines that fail to protect consumer rights and interests of marginalized groups in their operations.

It follows the completion of the Directives on Passenger Rights and Consumer Protection which is now applicable to domestic airlines.

The move is also in compliance with the ratification of the Montreal Convention which protects passengers and cuts back on protracted litigation in instances of abuse of passenger’s rights.

The Passenger Rights and Consumer Protection Directives is the implementation guideline to Ghana’s legal document on the Montreal Convention. The document, which is currently at the draft stage, will among others promote strict compliance among airline operators’ particularly domestic airlines.

With reference to sanctions contained in the Montreal Convention, a domestic airline which fails to abide by the provisions on compensating passengers for delayed flights, shall be liable to pay a compensation of 100 dollars payable at the Ghana cedi equivalent at the prevailing rate.

Regional flights will attract 300 dollars compensation with international flights attracting 600 dollars in compensation.

The Director of Legal, International Relations and Communications at the GCAA, Mrs. Joyce Thompson explains that.

“The Montreal Convention 1999 was ratified by the parliament of Ghana in December 2015. It is incorporated in the Ghana Civil Aviation Amendment Act 906 of 2016. This was accented to by the President in February 2016. It incorporates the Montreal Convention as well as additional conventions and the Montreal Convention has been domesticated to apply to domestic operations as well. As part of this it was the right of the civil aviation to ensure that customers are protected.”

“In view of that Civil Aviation has come up with these consumer protection directives and the consumer protection directives come out with the right passengers in the event of delay of a flight, cancellation of a flight, denied boarding, damage or loss of your baggage,” she added.

Another highlight of the Passenger Rights and Consumer Protection Directives is the provision that protects persons with disability.

Per the directive, in cases of denied boarding, cancellation and delays of any length, persons with disability shall have the right to care including providing an accommodation, refreshment among others.

This gesture shall also be extended to anyone or person accompanying such vulnerable persons.

The CEO of Starbow, James Asare Antwi admits more attention must be given to persons with disability. But he contends the high cost of such compliant aircrafts has partly deterred them from investing in them.

“We do take persons with disability but not all of them. Like you said, some of them need to be accompanied but they refuse to pay for people to accompany them and in case of emergency, there is nobody to assist them. But then also, in Ghana here most of our aircrafts that we purchase are all used aircrafts. If we want to order a new and bigger aircraft, that will cost a lot of money and that is not economical for us at the moment” he bemoaned.

Ghana is seeking to finally pass the Directives into law by next month; the GCAA is bent on cracking the whip on all defaulters.

Mr. Kofi Boateng, a Statistics Officer at the GCAA assures that a defaulter will not go unpunished.

“We do not wish it but we may not be able to prevent it but it could happen that there will be breaches or infringement of these directives and so provision is also available for such possible breaches that where there is failure to prominently display information on the authorities’ procedures, some sanctions will apply” he assured.