Enhanced consumer protections for Australian air passengers | ABC News Radio

Consumer Protections Australian Air Passengers

Travel lawyer Victoria Roy was interviewed by Glenn Bartholomew on the ABC News Radio National Breakfast show on 16 March 2023 advocating for enhanced consumer protections for Australian air passengers.  This was in her volunteer role as travel law spokesperson for the Australian Lawyers Alliance. 

You can read a partial transcript below:

Glenn Bartholomew: Australia needs to establish a simple and straightforward flight delay compensation scheme for passengers hit by delays and cancellations. That’s the view of the Australian Lawyers Alliance, who make an argument for such a scheme. In their submission to the Federal Government’s Aviation White Paper, which will set the long term direction for the aviation sector here. The alliance says we travel as much as anyone in the world but have fewer protections than other countries like Canada, the US the UK and Europe. Victoria Roy is a travel lawyer and a spokesperson for the Australian Lawyers Alliance and joins us now. Good morning. 

Victoria Roy: Good morning, Glenn. Thanks for having me. 

Glenn Bartholomew: First, what is the current arrangement for Australian passengers affected by airline delays and cancellations and how does that compare with what happens overseas? 

Victoria Roy: Well, at the moment, Australians have some limited rights under the Australian Consumer Law, and the Montreal Convention for international travel and under airlines’ terms and conditions. But it’s basically a complex and archaic web of rights and it’s not easy for consumers to make their way through, whereas in other jurisdictions like you mentioned, there are very straightforward schemes where passengers are entitled to compensation if their flights have been delayed. 

Victoria Roy: I understand that the increase in fares is a concern, but again, we say that we should look at models overseas like the EU, where flights are still competitive and passengers have these compensation rights. And ultimately a scheme would be an incentive to make sure flights are on time, which I think benefits everybody. 

Glenn Bartholomew: Interesting that you’re also to make making submissions regarding the lack of legal protection for passengers who suffer psychological harm from aviation incidents. What action do you want to see there? 

Victoria Roy: Well, that’s right. So we’re calling on the government to reinstate air passenger rights to compensation for pure psychiatric injury. That’s a right that Australian passengers had for domestic flights, but that was taken away in 2012 when the legislation was reformed. And we think there’s a travesty that was done of taking away passengers’ rights. And we think those rights should be and should be reinstated.

Glenn Bartholomew: Are they in place elsewhere?

Victoria Roy: With international flights they’re generally not. And so Australia was sort of leading the way, really, allowing compensation for pure psychiatric injury for domestic flights. And so it’s a real shame that we’ve gone backwards and taken those rights away when we were leading the way forward in that respect. 

Glenn Bartholomew: Well, this process has a while to run. We look forward to seeing what occurs.   Are you going so far as suggesting that this should this issue should be a specific area for consideration in the white paper terms of reference? Let’s see if it gets highlighted to the extent that you’d like. Victoria, thanks very much. 

Victoria Roy: Thanks for having me. 

Glenn Bartholomew: Victoria Roy, travel lawyer and spokesperson for the Australian Lawyers Alliance, speaking to their submission, calling for just a simple, straightforward flight delay compensation scheme like they have elsewhere.

16 March 2023

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