Avi­a­tion Om­buds­man as­sures re­dres­sal of trade is­sues

The pro­posed Avi­a­tion Om­buds­man, which is now in con­sul­ta­tion process, will sig­nif­i­cantly in­clude in­dus­try stake­hold­ers to re­solve their grievances against ser­vice providers and oper­a­tors viz air­lines, air­ports, ground han­dling com­pa­nies and ter­mi­nal oper

Cargo Talk - - Contents - RATAN KR PAUL

Kan­nan is head­ing the con­sul­ta­tion pro­ce­dure to give a fi­nal shape to the Civil Avi­a­tion Om­buds­man. Min­istry of Civil Avi­a­tion (MoCA) has de­cided to con­sult stake­hold­ers re­gard­ing set­ting up of an Om­buds­man for Civil Avi­a­tion Sec­tor in In­dia as an al­ter­na­tive dis­pute set­tle­ment ma­chin­ery. The word Om­buds­man means an of­fi­cer or spokesper­son or rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the people.

“It has been no­ticed that the dis­putes be­tween ser­vice providers and users are in­creas­ing at the same pace as the growth of the avi­a­tion sec­tor. Ideally, the grievances should be re­solved in­stantly at the ini­tial stage through the ser­vice providers’ griev­ance re­dres­sal mech­a­nism. How­ever, there are plenty of dis­putes which re­main un­re­solved for a very long time. It is not de­sir­able for the de­vel­op­ment of the avi­a­tion sec­tor in In­dia. As a re­sult, MoCA has de­cided to take this cru­cial ini­tia­tive, for fast set­tle­ment of any dis­putes through Om­buds­man for Civil Avi­a­tion,” said Kan­nan.

Asked about the re­quire­ment of a sep­a­rate mech­a­nism like Om­buds­man de­spite the pres­ence of some other in­sti­tu­tions like DGCA, AERA, CCI and Con­sumer Courts that too take care of users’ in­ter­ests, Kan­nan main­tained that each and ev­ery or­gan­i­sa­tion has their core func­tions and lim­i­ta­tions. On the other hand, re­dres­sal of dis­putes per­tain­ing to civil avi­a­tion should be done by a spe­cific and nodal body, which would cover all the stake­hold­ers and al­lied or­gan­i­sa­tions for fast set­tle­ment of any dis­putes. It is per­ti­nent to men­tion that the coun­try is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing de­sired re­sults from Om­buds­man, which al­ready had been set-up for some other sec­tors like bank­ing, in­sur­ance, in­come tax and elec­tric­ity.

People should come be­fore the Om­buds­man, if the grievances are not ad­dressed by the ser­vice providers and there is a dis­pute”

M Kan­nan

Eco­nomic Ad­viser, Min­istry of Civil Avi­a­tion

Sig­nif­i­cantly, the draft con­sul­ta­tion paper which is now in the pub­lic do­main for dis­cus­sion has given ad­e­quate em­pha­sis on the dis­putes be­tween the in­dus­try stake­hold­ers. Though the con­sul­ta­tion paper has not men­tioned the nitty-gritty on the scope of the Om­buds­man in re­spect of dis­pute set­tle­ment for the users from within the in­dus­try, it is ex­pected that some long pend­ing is­sues be­tween users like freight for­warders and air­lines/ter­mi­nal oper­a­tors or air­lines and air­ports will be cov­ered by the Om­buds­man. How­ever Kan­nan clar­i­fied, “Since the Om­buds­man is still in the con­sul­ta­tion process and we have in­vited all the users, both com­mon people and in­dus­try rep­re­sen­ta­tives, it would be too early to com­ment on any spe­cific is­sues. It should be re­mem­bered that the di­men­sion of the dis­putes be­tween an end-user and air­lines or air­ports and be­tween one in­dus­try stake­holder ver­sus an­other in­dus­try stake­holder is dif­fer­ent. This as­pect is de­sired to be dis­cussed by the in­dus­try people them­selves while par­tic­i­pat­ing in the con­sul­ta­tion process.”

The con­sul­ta­tion paper also says that there is a need to de­ter­mine the scope of ser­vice that would fall un­der the am­bit of Om­buds­man. It is nec­es­sary to de­cide whether it should in­clude only grievances per­tain­ing to pas­sen­gers or it should also in­clude grievances per­tain­ing to freight for­warders, ground han­dlers, and other such par­ties en­gaged in ser­vice de­liv­ery ( en­gaged in commercial pur­suit). The stake­hold­ers are ad­vised to give their com­ments on the sub­ject by April 15, 2014.

Kan­nan also made it clear that Om­buds­man would be the fi­nal stage for any dis­pute set­tle­ment based on the ex­ist­ing laws and rules & reg­u­la­tions. The Avi­a­tion Om­buds­man will also have an Ap­pel­late Body in case of dis­sat­is­fac­tion with the de­ci­sion of the Om­buds­man. “People should come be­fore the Om­buds­man, if the grievances are not ad­dressed by the ser­vice providers and there is a dis­pute,” he said. The con­sul­ta­tion paper has also high­lighted some best prac­tices of the Om­buds­man in­sti­tutes across the world.

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