ABTA Considering Code Of Conduct Change Following Safety Calls By Nepal Crash Lawyers

Rule Change Would See Passengers Better Informed On Airline Safety

31.03.2015

Specialist aviation lawyers have welcomed the news that travel industry body ABTA is to consider a rule change which would ensure air passengers are informed about airline safety.

Irwin Mitchell’s specialist Aviation Law team represent the families of five British men killed in the crash of a Sita Air operated aircraft in Nepal in September 2012. The surviving families and their lawyers have been calling for better information to be provided to holidaymakers about poor airline safety. In February this year the law firm launched legal action on behalf of the five families against package holiday provider Explore Worldwide Ltd following the tragedy. Explore Worldwide has admitted liability.

At the inquest into the deaths of the British passengers in April last year, Jim Morris of Irwin Mitchell urged the coroner to issue a Regulation 28 report notifying ABTA of his concerns  in relation to consumers booking flights with Nepalese air carriers whose safety record is a matter of concern.

Following this, the legal team has been informed that the travel industry body is considering a change to its Code of Conduct which could mean that travellers booking flights with ABTA members would be informed if an airline they are likely to be flying with is on the European Commission’s aviation safety blacklist. The blacklist list names airlines banned from flying in the EU. All of Nepal’s flight operators were added to the EU Safety List following calls by Irwin Mitchell after the Sita Air disaster.

Irwin Mitchell has been informed that the proposed change to ABTA’s Code of Conduct will be considered by their Board of Directors at a meeting on April 1st 2015.

Expert Opinion
"The facts are clear – this crash was the sixth in Nepal in the two year period up to September 2012 and since that date there have been at least four others including one in which 18 people tragically lost their lives.

"As such, it was very welcome to see the European Commission heed our call for Nepalese airlines to be blacklisted, which we hope is putting pressure on the Nepalese authorities and air operators to improve their safety record.

"The proposed change in ABTA’s Code of Conduct is the next step in our campaign as its implementation would mean that anyone looking to book a flight through an ABTA member with Sita Air or any another blacklisted airline anywhere in the world would have to be informed that the airline is on blacklisted.

"We are very concerned that it has taken ABTA almost a year to decide whether to implement this important change, one that really could save lives. But we urge ABTA’s Board of Directors to implement the rule change without further delay. This is the least that our clients deserve as they work with us to try and ensure that the deaths of their loved ones have not been in vain.

"We and our clients very strongly believe that more could and should be done to warn potential passengers of the risks of air travel with air operators that have unacceptable flight safety records – and the proposed changes by ABTA should be of enormous help in closing this information gap. We look forward to receiving early confirmation that ABTA has decided to take a common sense approach to this issue and that this extra protection for passengers is put in place immediately."
Clive Garner, Partner

Maggie Holding, from Stoke-on-Trent, lost her husband Steve in the Nepal crash in September 2012.

Commenting on this issue, she said: “I believe all travellers are entitled to full information when booking holidays. If travellers are being sold a holiday which includes internal flights in Nepal, they should be told about the abysmal safety record of the country’s airlines so they can make an informed assessment of the risk they would be taking.

“My husband, Steve, was highly respected as a dependable, conscientious and above all safe leader of others. Steve would never have considered flying in Nepal if he had been made aware of the risk to himself and to our future lives together.

“Although decisive action from ABTA will not help me to bear my devastating loss, I need at least to know that they have taken account of this tragedy and will act to help safeguard the lives of others by amending their Code of Conduct.”

Angela Gaunt, wife of Tim Oakes who was killed in the plane crash in September 2012, has urged ABTA to take these positive steps forward.

She said: “Anything that can be done to inform the public that an airline has a poor safety record should be implemented without hesitation. 

“There is nothing to be gained by not doing so.  We are talking about people’s lives here and something good has to come out of this dreadfully tragic situation.”
 
Pam Dix, Executive Director of charity Disaster Action, added: “We support any such measures that will enhance safety for the unsuspecting travelling public, who are putting their lives in the hands of others and deserve the opportunity to make an informed choice about whether to travel with a particular airline.”