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Saudi airlines issue $15m refunds to passengers

The General Authority of Civil Aviation says passenger protections are vital for a robust aviation sector Unsplash/Jon Tyson
The General Authority of Civil Aviation says passenger protections are vital for a robust aviation sector
  • SAR58m paid over two years
  • Consumer regulations being toughened
  • Vision 2030 aims for 330m travellers a year

Refunds of SAR58 million ($15.5 million) for flight cancellations, delays and loss of luggage have been issued by Saudi airlines over the past two years, it was revealed on Monday.

The figures were announced by the General Authority of Civil Aviation (Gaca). Enhanced passenger rights protection regulations, which come into force in November, will result in bigger fines for some violations.

The authority said the refund amount “serves as a formal reminder” to Saudi airlines of the importance of adhering to the regulations. 

Abdulaziz bin Abdullah al Dahmash, executive vice president of quality and passenger experience at Gaca, said robust protections for passenger rights were “pivotal” for cultivating a competitive aviation sector.

He described the upcoming regulations as “one of the most comprehensive frameworks” for passenger protection.

They are part of the Vision 2030 strategy for the Saudi economy, which has set a target of up to 330 million air travellers a year by 2030.

The tougher regulations cover ticketing, boarding, in-flight services, baggage handling and passengers with special needs.

Refund provisions for delays and cancellations have been extended. In some cases, compensation will rise to 150-200 percent of the original ticket value. Lost or damaged baggage could lead to payments of around SAR6,500. 

The regulations also cover Hajj and Umrah charter flights. They allow passengers to request the termination of the contract with the carrier if the flight is delayed for more than two hours.

The kingdom’s aviation strategy aims to unlock $100 billion in private and government investment across airports, airlines and aviation support services. 

It aims to extend Saudi Arabia’s connectivity from 99 to more than 250 destinations across 29 airports, treble annual passenger traffic to 330 million, establish two global long-haul connecting hubs and increase air cargo capacity to 4.5 million tons.