• CAA praises Alternative Dispute Resolution for helping resolve more than 10,000 passenger complaints in first 12 months, helping boost passengers' rights.
  • More than 75 per cent of complaints have been resolved in consumers' favour, with disputed issues including statutory compensation for delay and cancellation.
  • 35 airlines have now signed up to ADR, including most recently Norwegian. This leaves Jet2 as the only top 10 UK airline not to join. CAA urges Jet2, along with all other airlines serving UK passengers including Aer Lingus and Emirates to sign up.
  • Almost 80 per cent of air passenger journeys are now covered by ADR, enabling customers to resolve disputes relating to issues including compensation for delays and cancellations and lost or damaged baggage.
  • CAA welcomes the fact that seven of the UK's biggest airports have now signed up to ADR, which will assist disabled passengers with complaints about special assistance services.

The CAA is calling on all airlines, in particular Jet2, Aer Lingus and Emirates, to sign up to alternative dispute resolution (ADR) and ensure their passengers get access to an independent complaints service.  

Since its launch, 35 airlines have signed up to ADR, including most recently Norwegian who signed up in December 2017.  This means that almost 80 per cent of passenger journeys in and out of the UK are now covered by the initiative.  

However Jet2, the Leeds-based airline, one of the largest UK airlines, has 'inexplicably and persistently' refused to sign up - denying its customers access to a fair arbitration service, which can legally resolve disputed complaints fairly and efficiently.  

In 2016, the CAA formally introduced ADR to the airline industry, ensuring passengers could escalate disputed complaints and receive a legally binding solution, limiting the need to go to court.  

So far, more than 10,000 airline customers, have escalated a complaint to one of two ADR services approved by the CAA, namely CEDR and Aviation ADR, with 75 per cent of complaints resolved in the consumers' favour.  

Andrew Haines, Chief Executive of the CAA, said:

“Last year we introduced alternative dispute resolution to the aviation industry.  This allows passengers who have been unable to resolve a complaint with an airline to get an independent and legally binding decision, which the airline must abide by. 

“The vast majority of UK airlines, along with many EU airlines, have now signed up to an ADR provider. In total almost 80 per cent of passenger journeys from the UK are now flown on an airline that is covered by an ADR service. 

“ADR is good for UK consumers, which is why it is extremely disappointing that Jet2, one of the UK's largest airlines, has so far inexplicably and persistently refused to sign up, denying their passengers, access to an independent arbitration service. 

“Clearly this decision puts Jet2's customers, and those of other airlines that haven't yet signed up, at a distinct disadvantage, and in many cases, could mean their passengers are denied the fundamental rights they are entitled to.  

“I am therefore calling on Jet2 and other airlines including Aer Lingus and Emirates to commit to ADR in the interests of their passengers.”  

Since the launch of ADR in the airline industry, the UK CAA has also consulted with airports on introducing ADR.  Since the beginning of 2017, seven airports have signed up to ADR, helping resolve complaints around lost and damaged baggage and the special assistance disabled passengers are legally entitled to.  These airports cover 76 per cent of disabled passenger journeys.  

Andrew Haines added: “From the thousands of passengers already receiving positive outcomes from the ADR process, we are confident complaint handling and resolution has already significantly improved in the last 12 months. 

“We are also extremely pleased seven of the UK's biggest airports have now signed to ADR, which will ensure any passengers with a disability, who have a disputed complaint, can escalate their concerns and get the right outcome.” 

With two approved UK ADR bodies - as well as other European-based providers delivering similar services - the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has changed the way its own complaints handling service operates. The CAA's Passenger Advice and Complaints Team now only assist and accept complaints from passengers of airlines not signed up to ADR schemes.  

The CAA continues to carry out oversight of ADR bodies to ensure they comply with the complaint handling standards, as well as continuing to enforce airlines' compliance with consumer law - making sure airlines have policies in place that comply with the relevant passenger rights regulations and taking action wherever necessary.  

List of airlines and airports signed up to ADR

For more detailed information the CAA has published a report: ADR in aviation sector - a first review

Notes to Editors

  • ADR is directly funded by the businesses that use it, with the CAA providing regulatory oversight. This is consistent with how ombudsman-style schemes work in other sectors such as energy and financial services
  • The ADR Directive allows ADR schemes to charge consumers a nominal fee to use their services. The CAA's strong preference is for ADR to be free of charge to consumers. If ADR schemes charge, their fee should be no more than the lowest fee for bringing a claim in the country court (currently £25) and be for the sole purpose of deterring spurious complaints. If a complaint is upheld in any way, the CAA will require that the fee is refunded.
  • The European Commission Directive on alternative dispute resolution
  • Signposting: All airlines signed up to ADR must advise customers whose complaints have been rejected, that the ADR service is available.
  • The regulations mean complaints should be decided within 90 days of the ADR scheme receiving the necessary evidence from both the consumer and the airline. Our regular reviews show the average time is well below this, however we are aware that some highly complex complaints have exceeded this timeframe.
  • The seven UK airports signed up to ADR are: East Midlands Airport, London City Airport, Bristol Airport, London Gatwick Airport, London Heathrow Airport, Manchester Airport, Stansted Airport.
  • The CAA is the UK's specialist civil 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.

Media Enquiries

For further information call the CAA Press Office on 0207 453 6030 / press.office@caa.co.uk.