CAA strengthens passenger representation and streamlines complaints system

Date: 09 March 2011

The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is today announcing changes to the system of representation for air travellers in order to give the consumer a stronger voice in the regulatory structure and improve the passenger experience.

The main change will be to create a new independent body to represent passengers’ interests, replacing the existing Air Transport Users’ Council (AUC). At the same time, the AUC’s complaints handling role will become part of the CAA’s newly created Regulatory Policy Group, to ensure that consideration of the issues that most impact on consumers is at the heart of the Group’s regulatory work.

Commenting on the changes, Dame Deirdre Hutton, CAA Chair, said: “Protecting the consumer is at the heart of what the CAA does, and with these changes we will be able to ensure that our work is focussed on the issues that really matter to them. To guarantee that the CAA continues to receive independent advice supporting air travellers, we are creating the Aviation Consumer Advocate Panel (ACAP) to help us in our work to protect the passenger.

“The Panel will build on the AUC’s good work over nearly forty years of championing the consumer, and help to strengthen and embed their approach of placing the passenger experience at the heart of the regulatory regime.”

Tina Tietjen, Chair of the AUC, added, “The AUC has been a consistent advocate of the CAA putting greater emphasis on consumer interests, and the creation of the new Regulatory Policy Group is a positive step in that direction. The AUC model of passenger representation has remained basically unchanged in forty years, so we can see the need to update it. We are hopeful that these changes will indeed enhance the CAA’s role as a consumer champion.”

The changes will happen over the next six months, with the AUC’s complaints handling transitioning into the CAA and the information on their website becoming part of the CAA’s site first, and the new ACAP being set up to replace the existing Council subsequently.

The CAA will consult with stakeholders on ACAP’s remit and Key Performance Indicators in the coming months.

Notes to editors

1. The ACAP will have up to ten members and will be funded by the CAA, with the CAA also providing a small secretariat to it.

2. The CAA is the UK's specialist aviation regulator. Its activities include: making sure that the aviation industry meets the highest technical and operational safety standards; preventing holidaymakers from being stranded abroad or losing money because of tour operator insolvency; planning and regulating all UK airspace; and regulating airports, air traffic services and airlines and providing advice on aviation policy from an economic standpoint.