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
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”
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.