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Prosecutors look into protection of consumer rights over Avianova case

October 03, 2011, 20:06 UTC+3

Avianova has been asked to fulfil its obligations to passengers itself, rather than at the expense of taxpayers

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MOSCOW, October 3 (Itar-Tass) —— The Moscow inter-regional transport prosecutor’s office has began a probe into the protection of consumer rights in connection with the suspension of regular flights by the Avianova airline from October 3.

Under Federal Aviation Rules, when transportation services are interrupted through the air carrier’s fault and when a flight has been cancelled or delayed because of bad weather or for other reasons, or the route has been changed, the air carrier is obliged to provide certain services to the passengers, including the provision of a room for mothers with children; two telephone calls or two e-mail message; and soft drinks if a flight has been delayed for more than two hours.

Passengers should be provided with hot meals if a flight has been delayed for more than four hours and every six hours afterwards; and should be accommodated in a hotel if a flight has been delayed for more than eight hours during the day and for six hours at night.

In this case, passengers should be provided with free transportation from the airport and back.

“These services should be provided free of charge,” the prosecutor’s office said.

Avianova has been asked to fulfil its obligations to passengers itself, rather than at the expense of taxpayers, Chief of the Federal Air Transport Agency Alexander Neradko told journalists on Monday. “Avianova and its shareholders should transport passengers at their own expense, rather than at taxpayers' expense,” Neradko stressed.

The company has sold 67,834 air tickets for its flights scheduled for October 3-29, Neradko added. The situation is expected to clarify by Monday evening, Neradko said, adding that a meeting with the Avianova managers was to take place on Monday. “For the time being its management demonstrates an unclear and unreasonable position,” Neradko noted.

Meanwhile, the Avianova airline company continues its operational service to fulfill its obligations to passengers, the Avianova press service said in a statement received by Itar-Tass.

“At present Avianova, a low-cost airline, continues its operational service with the aim to fulfill its obligations to passengers,” Avianova said.

Nonetheless, passengers might demand refund for air tickets already booked by means of a simplified procedure, sending information about the number of the ticket reservation and banking requisites by e-mail: Corresponding information about the refund procedure is available on the website of the company, the document said.

Avianova is a low budget airline that can stop flights altogether due to the absence of money, First Deputy Director General of the company Konstantin Teterin told the Vedomosti newspaper.

Avianova is undergoing the most severe liquidity crisis. Financial breakdowns were provoked by a conflict between its shareholders A-1 and the Indigo Partners group. Avianova has sent no official notification to the Federal Air Transport Agency yet, Teterin said.

Meanwhile, Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport has organized an operational headquarters to service Avianova passengers. The headquarters were opened in the office of the Avianova Company at “B” terminal of the airport, Sheremetyevo announced on Monday.

On October 2, Sheremetyevo airport sent telegrams to Avianova Company, demanding explanations why it has stopped air ticket sale beginning from October 3 and asked to confirm the implementation of the summer flight schedule and inform in the shortest possible time about Avianova's plans for winter flights.

Avianova has not responded to the telegram and provided no information yet, the airport said.

Russian Vice-Premier Sergei Ivanov came out in support of low budget air carriers, but stressed that passengers should not suffer if such companies stop flights, Ivanov told journalists on Monday. “The most important thing is to ensure that passengers should not suffer,” Ivanov declared, commenting on the situation in respect to Avianova, which declared it might possibly quit its operational service. “Low budget airline companies should exist. I hope that new such companies will appear in future,” the vice-premier said.


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