Airlines miss deadline to appoint ombudsmenAugust 2nd, 2008 - 2:13 pm ICT by IANS
By Sanjay Singh
New Delhi, Aug 2 (IANS) The Indian government’s missive to all carriers to name an ombudsman by Aug 1 to address the grievances of air passengers has been given a miss. No airline - including the National Aviation Company of India, which runs Air India - has heeded to the government’s request, despite being given two months to do so, a senior official in the civil aviation ministry said.
The ombudsman was proposed as authority that will provide a forum for passengers to lodge their complaints and to act as an arbitrator for settlement of disputes between them and the airlines.
“As of now there is no agency with which an air passengers can lodge complaints. They can only go to various consumer disputes forums or the courts to get their complaints addressed,” said the official.
“But once the carriers appoint their ombudsman, the grievances of passengers are expected to be addressed much faster. It would be an obligation on the part of carriers and send a signal that they care for their passengers.”
Spokespersons for various carriers said the government had only made a proposal and that it was not a mandatory on their part to appoint an ombudsman.
Then civil aviation secretary Ashok Chawla made the suggestion for an ombudsman during a meeting with all carriers early June, and Aug 1 was set as the deadline by which the airlines were required to comply.
He had proposed the post of an ombudsman till such time the government was able to notify a watchdog on the lines of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) by way of an act of parliament.
The regulator, for which a proposal is pending with the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Aviation, would be expected to look into issues like aeronautical charges, user development fee and airfares.
The government has indicated that an independent regulator would be in place by October.
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