Saudi Arabia introduces new Passenger Rights Regulation

The General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) of Saudi Arabia has introduced and strengthened consumer rights for air passengers, through a new regulation that was approved on 23 August and came into force after 90 days, i.e. last Monday 20 November.

The new regulation encompasses 30 new provisions that cover ticketing, boarding, inflight services, and baggage handling, as well as provisions for passengers with special needs, including those with reduced mobility. It will apply to air journeys both within and departing from Saudi Arabia.

 

Major changes under the new Regulation

The forthcoming regulation places a paramount emphasis on upholding the rights of passengers, particularly in scenarios involving flight disruptions, reservation concerns, and changes to ticket classes. Please find below a brief comparison between the previous regulation and the one that came into force last Monday:

 

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IATA´s primary concern

IATA has expressed some concern about the move. IATA Director General Willie Walsh noted several Middle East governments were looking at passenger rights. Mr Walsh cautioned them against going down a similar path as the European Union’s EU261 regulation, which has seen airlines being held liable for sums greatly exceeding the ticket price paid by passengers.

Nonetheless, GACA set up that the new regulation is a key component in enabling the aviation sector’s Saudi Aviation Strategy targets, including tripling passenger numbers to 330 million per annum and connecting the Kingdom with more than 250 global destinations by 2030.

The Saudi Aviation Strategy aims to unlock $100 billion in private and government investment across the Kingdom’s airports, airlines, and aviation support services. By 2030, the strategy will extend Saudi Arabia’s connectivity from 99 to more than 250 destinations across 29 airports, triple annual passenger traffic to 330 million, establish two global long-haul connecting hubs, and increase air cargo capacity to 4.5 million tons.

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