Under Resolution 706-E/2017, airlines must inform the Argentine National Civil Administration (ANAC) of how they will reimburse the discrepancy in airport fees paid by passengers who bought tickets in 2016 and travelled on or after January 1 2017, when a fee reduction was introduced. However, it has been virtually impossible for airlines to comply with this requirement due to a number of factors.

Fee reduction

Resolution 101 of the Regulatory Body of the National Airport System (ORSNA) reduced the $57 airport fee that passengers paid in 2016 to $49 as of January 1 2017 (for further information please see "Consumer associations file collective action regarding airport fees").

The passengers affected by the fee reduction primarily bought their tickets through travel agents. As a result, it has been virtually impossible for airlines to comply with Resolution 706-E/2017's stipulation that passengers be reimbursed, as the airlines do not always have the contact information of the relevant passengers. Further, airlines have reimbursed passengers in different ways: some via the International Air Transport Association Clearing House and others through an invoice from the airport from which the passengers departed.

There is a precedent for the fee reduction issue. When the airport fee system was originally established, airports charged passengers the fee directly. This system was slow and resulted in long queues for passengers at check-in and in some cases delayed flights. Subsequently, carriers began charging the airport fee when passengers purchased their tickets.

Solutions

Although it has been difficult to establish an efficient system to reimburse the additional $8 paid by passengers that bought tickets in 2016 and travelled in 2017, most of the affected airlines, with the cooperation of their attorneys, have proposed ways to comply with Resolution 706-E/2017, including:

  • publishing on their websites an invitation for passengers to provide their bank account details so that the relevant airline can reimburse them $8 within 30 days;
  • establishing a special email address as the only channel through which passengers can communicate their bank account details to airlines;
  • requesting travel agents to provide the required information to passengers to whom they issued tickets in 2016 for flights in 2017; and
  • notifying ANAC of the reimbursements that they have made.

These measures should enable airline carriers to avoid summary proceedings by ANAC for non-compliance and protect against complaints from consumer agencies for failing to reimburse consumers.

ANAC has yet to respond to the airlines' proposals.

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For further information on this topic please contact Elizabeth Mireya Freidenberg at Freidenberg Freidenberg & Lifsic by telephone (+54 11 4311 4991) or email (emf@emfrl.com.ar).