A Study on the Legislative Guidelines for Airline Consumer Protection

항공소비자 보호제도의 입법방향

  • Received : 2017.06.12
  • Accepted : 2017.06.27
  • Published : 2017.06.30

Abstract

From a historical point of view, while the Warsaw Convention was passed in 1924 to regulate the unified judicial responsibility in the global air transportation industry, protection of airline consumers was somewhat lacking in protecting air carriers. In principle, the air carrier does not bear any obligation or liability when the aircraft is not operated normally due to natural disasters such as typhoon or heavy snowfall. However, in recent years, in developed countries such as the US and Europe, there has been a movement in which regulates the air carriers' obligation to protect their passengers even if there is no misconduct or negligence. Furthermore, the legislation of such advanced countries imposes an obligation on the airlines to compensate the loss separately from damages in case the abnormal operation of the aircraft is not caused by force majeure but caused by their negligence. Under this historical and international context, Korea is also modifying the system of aviation consumer protection by referring to other foreign legislation. However, when compared with foreign countries, our norm has a few drawbacks. First, the airline's protection or care obligations are mixed with the legal liability for damages in the provision, which seems to be due to the lack of understanding of the airline's passenger protection obligation. The liability for damages, which is governed by the International Convention or the Commercial Act, shall be determined by judging the cause of the airline's liability in respect of the damage of the individual passenger in the course of the air transportation. However, the duty to care and the burden for compensation shall be granted to all passengers who feel uncomfortable with the abnormal operation regardless of the cause of the accident. Also, our compensation system for denied boarding due to oversale is too low compared to the case of foreign countries, and setting the compensation amount range differently based on the time for the re-routing is somewhat unclear. Regarding checked-baggage claim, it will be necessary to refund the fee only from the fact that the baggage is delayed without asking whether there is any damage occurred from the delayed baggage. This is the content of the duty to care, which is different from the current Commercial Act or the international convention, in which responsibility is different depending on whether the airline takes all the necessary measures in order to prevent delaying of the baggage. The content of force majeure, which is a requirement for exemption from the obligation to care passengers on the airplane, shall be reconsidered. Maintenance for safe navigation is not considered to be included in force majeure, and connection to airplanes, airport conditions are disputable. According to the EC Regulation, if the cause of the abnormal operation of the airline is force majeure, the airline's compensation obligation is exempted but the duty to care of airline company is still meaningful. Furthermore, even if the main role of aviation consumer protection is on an airline, it is the responsibility of government agencies to supervise the fulfillment of such protection obligations. Therefore, it is necessary for the Korean government to actively take measures such as enforcing incentives for airlines that faithfully fulfill their obligation to care and imposed penalties on the contrary.

Acknowledgement

Supported by : 한국연구재단

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