ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Information Commission has directed the Civil Aviation Authority to prominently display passengers’ right’s at airports, airlines counters, and on websites.
According to details, on an appeal of a citizen the commission has issued a detail verdict and directed the Civil Aviation Authority to ensure information about the rights of passengers is prominently displayed at airports, on its web site and that passengers are apprised about their responsibilities as well as their rights through Public Address Systems. Moreover, airlines should also make sure this information available on their web sites, electronic and printed tickets and at airline counters.
CAA as a regulator, cannot absolve itself from its responsibility of sharing rights of passengers by merely putting information about their rights on its web site, at some obscure corner, which is not easily accessible to the citizen, the Commission observed. A citizen, Abu Ahmed Akif had lodged an appeal against a private airline in which he had maintained that he was informed by its call center about the cancellation of the flight, (both through text message and voice call) but he was not informed about his right to be endorsed on other airlines.
He appealed with the commission that “While the airline has settled this case by providing additional tickets, the issue of dissemination of passenger rights on tickets and by call centers remains unresolved and hence citizens continue to suffer both financial and other losses”.
The commission maintained that the Appellant has raised a pertinent point that “a commercial organization cannot be expected to act against its interests by giving full information on rights which hurts its commercial interests”. The commission in its order has observed that “it is responsibility of CAA, as a regulator, to ensure that both the commercial interests of airlines and the rights of passengers are protected”. The twelve pages verdict of PIC states that the Right of Access to Information Act 2017 requires that citizens not only have ‘improved access’ to information but that the information should be made ‘accessible’ to all citizens, including citizens with low-literacy level and those with different disabilities.
PIC order states, it would be stating the obvious that passengers should not be treated as a homogenous group of people while disseminating information about their rights as passengers. Passengers also include those with different disabilities i.e., low-vision, blindness, speech, hearing and physical impairments. The ability to exercise the right of access to information by passengers with different disabilities is dictated by the nature of their different disabilities. As such, it is responsibility of the CAA to ensure that both the content and the design of the web sites of CAA and those of airlines is accessible and that information about rights of passengers should be provided catering to the special needs of passengers with different disabilities.
Every passenger has the right to travel with dignity on equal basis with others irrespective of any disability. It is responsibility of CAA to ensure that both ground staff and the plane crew are apprised of the rights of passengers with different disabilities and trained to provide services to passengers with different disabilities in line with the nature of each disability. CAA is responsible to ensure that information about the rights of passengers is prominently displayed at airports, on its web site and that passengers are apprised about their responsibilities as well as their rights through Public Address Systems, Order states.
The commission has sought compliance report,containing relevant documents and empirically verifiable evidence, pertaining to the dissemination of information mentioned above by February 12, 2021. PIC in its order has also directed to CAA to notify Public Information Officer, (PIO), under Section 9 of the Act, put the notification to this effect on its web site as required under Section 5 (1) (b) of the Act, put name, designation and contact details of the PIO on its web sites as required under Section 5 (1) (h) of the Act within 10 working days.