Airlines must inform passengers of delays, cancellations: PACA

Muscat: All airlines are duty-bound to inform their passengers well in advance on the event of cancellation or delay of a flight. According to the passenger rights listed out by the Public Authority for Civil Aviation (PACA) in Oman, the airlines must inform the passengers of the cancellation or delay two weeks before the scheduled time of departure. “If the airline operator does not inform the passengers of the cancellation or delay at least two weeks before the scheduled time of departure it should offer a choice between reimbursement within seven days, the full cost of the ticket at the price at which it was bought or re-routing, under comparable transport conditions, to their final destination at the earliest opportunity,” the PACA guidelines said.

Speaking to the Observer, a senior official of a leading travel agency, said: “Very few passengers are aware of their rights and they refuse to file for compensation believing it is a time-consuming exercise. Airlines just take passengers for granted with some apologies.” He said the rules are clearly loaded in favour of passengers but they should be aware of whether they are entitled to compensation or not. Ajmal, a passenger, said that he was informed of the cancellation by the airline concerned two months in advance and got the refund, but failed to manage tickets from other airlines for alternative prices. “The airline suddenly announced the cancellation of flights on some sectors for the peak summer season. They offered me a full refund and informed me two months before the date of travel, but we couldn’t get tickets for the same price,” he said.

In the case of delays, passengers must be offered meals and/or refreshments in a reasonable relation to the waiting time; hotel accommodation in cases where a stay of one or more nights becomes necessary, or where a stay additional to that intended by the passenger becomes necessary; transport between the airport and place of accommodation (hotel or other). Compensation after determining the distance, the basis shall be the last destination at which the delay of passenger’s arrival after the scheduled time. The airline is not obliged to pay compensation if it can prove that the cancellation/delay is caused by extraordinary circumstances, which could not have been avoided even if all reasonable measures had been taken.