Airline ADR scheme a success
35 airlines have now signed up to alternative dispute resolution (ADR) schemes, leaving Jet2 as the only top 10 UK airline yet to join.
Between them they cover almost 80% of UK passenger journeys. The CAA is urging Jet2, along with all other airlines serving UK passengers including Aer Lingus and Emirates to sign up. The CAA’s Passenger Advice and Complaints Team now only assist and accept complaints from passengers of airlines not signed up to ADR schemes.
The CAA has reported that the ADR schemes they have helped to resolve more than 10,000 passenger complaints in first 12 months, of which 75 per cent have been resolved in consumers’ favour.
The two schemes are CEDR and Aviation ADR. The schemes cover claims under Regulation 261 and also Montreal claims for lost or damaged baggage.
ADR is directly funded by the businesses that use it, with the CAA providing regulatory oversight. This is consistent with how ombudsman-style schemes work in other sectors such as energy and financial services.
The ADR Directive allows ADR schemes to charge consumers a nominal fee to use their services. The CAA’s strong preference is for ADR to be free of charge to consumers. If ADR schemes charge, their fee should be no more than the lowest fee for bringing a claim in the country court (currently £25) and be for the sole purpose of deterring spurious complaints. If a complaint is upheld in any way, the CAA will require that the fee is refunded.
Complaints should be decided within 90 days of the ADR scheme receiving the necessary evidence from both the consumer and the airline. Regular reviews by the CAA show the average time is well below this, however some highly complex complaints have exceeded this timeframe.
The CAA continues to carry out oversight of ADR bodies to ensure they comply with the complaint handling standards, as well as continuing to enforce airlines’ compliance with consumer law – making sure airlines have policies in place that comply with the relevant passenger rights regulations and taking action wherever necessary.
One thing currently missing from these schemes is any body of ‘case law’ or any case studies. Anyone who has used the Financial Ombudsman Service knows how valuable the case studies are that they publish on their website. According to CEDR ‘The first bulletin will be published 2017’ but this had not appeared by the first week in 2018 and Aviation ADR do not seem to have any plans to publish decisions. Until consumers have such precedents to rely upon they will be at a disadvantage to airlines who can afford to pay for the services of specialist aviation lawyers.
For more detailed information the CAA has published a report: ADR in the aviation sector – a first review
[Source: CAA, 27 December, 2017]