Wed, May 17, 2017 - Page 3 News List

CAA to ban processing fees for some ticket refunds

RESPONDING TO COMPLAINTS:The CAA’s deputy director said it heard from people upset by the way budget airlines handled requests for compensation

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Airline passengers will soon be exempt from processing fees when seeking refunds for flights that have been delayed more than five hours, the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) said yesterday.

The new policy is scheduled to take effect in the middle of September, it said.

The agency is in the process of amending the Regulations Governing the Mediation of Disputes Arising between Civil Aviation Passengers and Air Carriers (民用航空乘客與航空器運送人運送糾紛調處辦法), CAA Deputy Director General Fang Chih-wen (方志文) said.

One of the reasons for the proposed amendment has been the gradual rise in disputes over ticket refunds from low-cost carriers, which generally charge high processing fees, Fang said.

“Some passengers even wrote to the director-general of the Civil Aeronautics Administration, complaining that budget airlines have no way to compensate them for delayed flights because Taiwan’s civil aviation regulations do not specifically stipulate such compensation,” he said.

The CAA has reviewed the EU’s regulations, which stipulate that passengers whose flights are delayed for five hours or more are entitled to a full refund of their tickets without any processing fees — as long as the passengers do not accept any other flight arrangements offered by their carriers, Fang said.

The agency is also working on amending the Regulations of Civil Air Transport Enterprises (民用航空運輸業管理規則) to require airlines to inform it about how they would protect passengers’ interests if they suspend or cancel domestic flights.

Such an amendment was suggested after TransAsia Airways unexpectedly suspended flights on Nov. 21 last year, followed a day later by the announcement that it was dissolving its operations.

“We have looked at relevant regulations in Japan and decided to change our regulations too... Apart from seeking approval from the CAA [for flight cancellations], airlines’ plans would also have to be approved by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications. The plans would have to be filed at least 60 days before they officially suspend or cancel flight services,” Fang said.

The only exception for carriers to cancel flights without such advance notice would be due to unavoidable occurrences or extraordinary circumstances, such as wars or natural disasters, Fang said.

The agency is also going to submit an amendment to Article 110 of the Civil Aviation Act (民航法) to hold members of an airline’s management team accountable if their company abruptly suspends or ceases operations without filing applications in advance, he said.

At present the act only punishes airlines themselves, which can be fined between NT$600,000 and NT$3 million (US$19,924 and US$99,618).

TransAsia was fined NT$3 million and its rights to operate domestic and international flights were revoked by the CAA.

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