An independent Consumer Panel set up by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has set out plans to help drive better outcomes for aviation consumers over the next 18 months.
The Panel, made up of 10 consumer experts, works with the regulator as a ‘critical friend’ to provide advice to make sure the consumer interest is at the heart of policy development and decision-making.
Its new 18-month work programme will focus on several themes, one of which will be to learn lessons from and help rebuild consumer confidence following the pandemic and recent disruption, with a particular focus on the needs of vulnerable consumers who are more at risk.
Understanding the potential longer-term impact of the pandemic, the rising cost of living, concerns about the environmental impact of aviation and new technology on consumer behaviour and attitudes towards flying is another priority.
The expert Panel will also help the Civil Aviation Authority consider how to mitigate the potential risk that some consumers might be excluded from flying due to wider economic, market and regulatory changes.
The Panel will remain flexible and adapt to future priorities and changes in the aviation sector to consider what this might mean for the future structure of the sector and regulatory landscape.
Rt Hon Jenny Willott OBE, Chair of the Civil Aviation Authority’s Consumer Panel said:
“Aviation passengers in 2022 have been hugely affected by delays, cancellations and poor customer service, with vulnerable passengers particularly poorly served. Our workplan covers several areas that will impact how fast and effectively airports and airlines are able to improve services, and the ability of the Civil Aviation Authority to drive this improvement.
“The next 18 months will be crucial as passengers return to flying, but in a new context with the rising cost of living challenges and a heightened interest in the impact of flying on climate change. We will be considering some of these long-term, future challenges and the potential impact on all of us and our ability and desire to fly.
“We will be looking at how we can work with the Civil Aviation Authority, airlines and airports to ensure that consumers’ needs are at the heart of decisions.”
Paul Smith, Consumer Director at the Civil Aviation Authority, said:
“The Civil Aviation Authority Consumer Panel plays an important role in providing independent expert advice and challenge to the CAA to ensure the consumer interest remains central to our work.
“Over the next 18 months, it will be important the aviation sector provides a good experience to all consumers, including those who are vulnerable, to promote confidence as people return to flying post-pandemic.”
“Through its new work programme, the Panel will work with the Civil Aviation Authority to help deliver good outcomes for consumers, and to ensure we continue to promote consumer choice, value and fair treatment and improves consumer protection outcomes.”