February 23 2011
The Ministry of Civil Aviation recently constituted the Civil Aviation Economic Advisory Council to meet the increasing need for sustainable growth and passenger facilitation in the aviation sector.
The council was constituted by an order dated December 9 2010 to advise on and assess policy frameworks for ensuring affordable, sustainable and viable air transport services and to protect consumer interest through measures such as public disclosure of tariffs and service conditions. The council is comprised of representatives of various stakeholders, such as scheduled domestic airlines; airport operators; industry associations (eg, the Federation of Indian Airlines and the Confederation of Indian Industry); consumer forums; economic research bodies; legal, cost and chartered accounting professionals; and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation. The council will meet once every quarter to deliberate and advise on issues falling within its mandate. It is also empowered to appoint experts when necessary and form subcommittees to deal with matters within its purview.
In keeping with this directive, the council has set up two working groups. The Working Group on Regulatory Framework to protect consumer interest was formed on December 20 2010 and is responsible for:
The Working Group on Air Cargo/Express Service Industry was constituted on January 17 2011 and is responsible for:
The council has also recommended the appointment of an ombudsman to deal with passenger grievances. At present, there is no agency or office constituted by the Ministry of Civil Aviation to deal with such grievances. Although no formal press release or notification of appointment has been issued in this regard, it has been proposed that the ombudsman will have quasi-judicial powers to deal with cases relating to airfares, compensation claims and loss or damage to baggage claims, and that it will be the final appellate authority for such cases. The government had previously recommended that all airlines appoint an ombudsman by June 1 2008; however, the airlines did not adhere to this recommendation. At present, consumers lodge complaints either in the consumer courts or in the appropriate civil court.
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