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South Africa

Tourism chief disputes airline refunds

Jul 16, 2008

A "balanced solution" is needed when it comes to compensating airline passengers denied permission to board a flight because it has been overbooked, according to the Southern African Tourism Services Association (Satsa).

If a decision was "skewed" in favour of passengers, ticket prices could increase, Satsa chief executive officer Michael Tatalias said on Tuesday.

Tatalias was reacting to Transport Minister Jeff Radebe's written reply to a question in parliament recently. Radebe had said details regarding compensation would be incorporated in regulations to be promulgated under the Consumer Protection Act.

There is no legislation that requires compensation to be paid to a passenger who has been denied permission to board. In EU countries, airlines have to refund the cost of the ticket and associated costs such as accommodation and meals.

Tatalias said the Consumer Protection Act might end up attracting fewer new foreign airlines.

"Europe can get away with negative rules as there is big and consistent demand to fly to Europe. But there is less demand for South Africa. So we have to work harder to attract airlines."

Satsa hoped it was possible to come up with a solution that protected airlines and passengers.

"So long as the solution is acceptable to all sides we have achieved a positive, as long as the rules are clear and codified in this act.

"Once this is achieved, any overseas or local airline looking to invest will be able to cost in a known and stable factor. If it is too skewed in favour of passengers, there will be the risk of increasing the price of tickets, making airline ticket rules less flexible and more draconian and chasing airlines away."

Tourism chief disputes airline refunds

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