The Ministry of Aviation has launched the aviation consumer protection directives and passenger rights to protect airline passengers from abuse of their rights.
Developed in collaboration with the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), the directive covers the rights of passengers in cases of delays, cancellations, denied boarding and baggage liability for both domestic and international flights.
It would also cater for persons with disability and spells out the service providers’ obligations to their customers as well as responsibilities of the passengers.
Minister of Aviation, Joseph Kofi Adda, who launched it in Accra yesterday during the opening of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) two-day regional aviation forum, said the directive reflects the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) core principles on consumer protection for national consumer protection regimes.
This, he explained, reflect the principle of proportionality, allow for the consideration of the impact of massive disruptions, and consistent with the international treaty regimes on air carrier liability established by the Convention for the unification of certain rules relating to international carriage by air (Montréal Convention, 1999).
The directives, Mr Adda said, would further address the situation where most customers of air transport services were either unaware or inadequately protected against poor services by the various service providers in the aviation industry, stressing that even in situations where there was sufficient protection, consumers were often confronted with institutional incapacities.
The absence of consumer protection directive, he said, have in the past, led to the violation of the rights of passengers in several ways leaving them with minimal or no compensation at all, stating that such situations have undermined efforts made in promoting a sustainable development of air transport in the country.
He explained that the directive was about ensuring fairness between the consumers and the service providers.
“As a government that has pledged to ensuring Ghana becomes an aviation hub in the sub-region, we have taken keen steps in ensuring the expansion in infrastructure within the aviation industry corresponds with the quality of services provided, as well as protecting the rights of the increasing number of passengers that fly within, in and out of the country,” the minister added.
Simon Allotey, Director-General of GCAA, bemoaned the performance gap between the African aviation industry and the rest of the world including the implementation of International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) safety elements and passengers of world traffic for international and domestic air services.
He attributed the woes plaguing Africa’s aviation industry to weak Intra-African trade, protectionism of national airlines and poor synergy amongst airlines.
When fully implemented, he said the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) would provide the catalyst for the accelerated growth of the continent’s air transport industry.
Additionally, the synergies between aviation, tourism and trade and strategic alliances among African airlines, Mr Allotey said, must be vigorously pursued while various regional aviation initiatives including peer to peer review mechanism amongst Air Navigation Services Providers should be undertaken regularly to spur the sector’s growth.
BY CLAUDE NYARKO ADAMS .