Saudi aviation authority announces passenger-friendly rules for delays, damages

Saudi Arabia announced new consumer rights protection amendments that enable fliers to receive monetary compensation for a variety of airline or airport disruptions.

The General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) announced the changes to “create a better passenger experience, supporting the Kingdom’s broader aviation sector growth objectives,” it said in a statement.

The rules will apply, according to AlArabia English News service, from November 20 this year and will encompass issues with ticketing, boarding, in-flight services, baggage handling, and accessibility for passengers with special needs.

In the case of flight delays, passengers will be able to cancel their journey, according to the new regulations. If the flight is canceled, overbooked or makes an unscheduled stopover, passengers will be able to claim up to 200 percent in compensation.

Meanwhile, passengers whose baggage was lost or damaged by the airline will be eligible to get monetary compensation up to $1,750 (SAR 6,568), the GACA statement said.

“These changes reflect GACA’s focus on putting the passenger first, by strengthening regulations that secures better service quality for passengers,” the Vice President of GACA for Quality and Passenger Experience, Abdulaziz al-Dahmash was quoted as saying in the statement.

“The regulations cover new ground in supporting passengers affected by travel disruptions and support the Kingdom’s broader Saudi Aviation Strategy growth agenda,” he added.

The aviation authority reportedly consulted the stakeholders, including the public, air service providers and international organizations before preparing and announcing the regulations.

Last year, GACA head Abdulaziz al-Duailej, announced the Kingdom’s plans to boost its airports’ capacity to handle 330 million passengers by 2030. The authority seeks to invest over $100 billion in the aviation sector in seven years.

Its airports are expected to increase services to 250 destinations, contributing $75 billion in the same time frame.

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