UK air regulator the CAA has urged Jet2.com to sign up to its Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) saying it is ‘extremely disappointing’ it has refused to do so.

The challenge came as the CAA praised the services for helping to resolve more than 10,000 passenger complaints in the last 12 months.

The CAA claimed this has helped boost passengers’ rights and there are now 35 airlines signed up to ADR, including the low cost long-haul carrier Norwegian which joined this month.

That left Jet2.com as the only top 10 UK carrier not involved in the scheme.

The CAA said the Leeds-based airline has ‘inexplicably and persistently’ refused to sign up and claimed this is denying its customers access to a fair arbitration service.

Andrew Haines, chief executive of the CAA, said: “The vast majority of UK airlines, along with many EU airlines, have now signed up to an ADR provider.

“In total almost 80% of passenger journeys from the UK are now flown on an airline that is covered by an ADR service.

“ADR is good for UK consumers, which is why it is extremely disappointing that Jet2.com, one of the UK’s largest airlines, has so far inexplicably and persistently refused to sign up, denying their passengers, access to an independent arbitration service.

“Clearly this decision puts Jet2’s customers, and those of other airlines that haven’t yet signed up, at a distinct disadvantage and in many cases could mean their passengers are denied the fundamental rights they are entitled to.

“I am therefore calling on Jet2 and other airlines including Aer Lingus and Emirates to commit to ADR in the interests of their passengers.”

In 2016, the CAA introduced ADR to the airline industry, ensuring passengers could escalate disputed complaints and receive a legally binding solution, limiting the need to go to court.

So far, more than 10,000 airline customers, have escalated a complaint to one of two ADR services approved by the CAA – CEDR and Aviation ADR – with 75% of complaints resolved in the consumers’ favour.

Following the launch of ADR in the airline industry, the CAA also consulted with airports on introducing ADR.

Since the beginning of 2017, seven airports have signed up to ADR, helping resolve complaints around lost and damaged baggage and the special assistance disabled passengers are legally entitled to.  These airports cover 76% of disabled passenger journeys.

Haines added: “From the thousands of passengers already receiving positive outcomes from the ADR process, we are confident that complaint handling and resolution has already significantly improved in the last 12 months.

“We are also extremely pleased that seven of the UK’s biggest airports have now signed up to ADR, which will ensure any passengers with a disability, who have a disputed complaint, can escalate their concerns and get the right outcome.”

With two approved UK ADR bodies, as well as other European-based providers delivering similar services, the CAA has changed the way its own complaints handling service operates.

The CAA’s Passenger Advice and Complaints Team now only assist with and accept complaints from passengers of airlines not signed up to ADR schemes.

The CAA says it continues to carry out oversight of ADR bodies to ensure they comply with the complaint handling standards, as well as continuing to enforce airlines’ compliance with consumer law.

Airlines UK chief executive Tim Alderslade said: “UK airlines work hard to ensure that the passenger experience is as smooth and enjoyable as possible, however occasionally things do go wrong and that is why airlines provide support to passengers, including complying with all legal requirements on passenger rights and consumer protection – paying compensation when it is due and offering great customer service to their 270 million passengers, in what is a highly competitive industry.

“Following the ADR directive and its implementation by the UK government, ADR was made available in the aviation sector on a voluntary basis.

“The vast majority of UK carriers have already signed up with an ADR provider while others will be carefully considering it as an option, ultimately basing their decision on what is best for their customers.”