Flight disruption compensation not enough to improve air travel in Canada: proponents – National

A consumer advocate says two recent regulatory decisions asking Canadian airlines to compensate passengers for flight disruptions will not be enough to improve air travel in that country.

In an interview, Gabor Lukacs — founder of advocacy group Air Passenger Rights — said the Canadian Transportation Agency’s (CTA) separate decisions this summer in favor of passengers whose flights were canceled due to crew shortages are only intended to address complaints from to dub thousands of Canadians who have suffered from airport congestion and flight delays over the past year.

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“These two judgments are isolated and extraordinary incidents where the CTA is doing what it is supposed to be doing,” Lukacs said.

“These two decisions (serve as) helpful jurisprudence for passengers taking airlines to small claims court rather than wasting months or years waiting for the CTA. However, they do not provide any meaningful remedy for passengers hoping for the CTA.”

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In August, the CTA — a quasi-judicial court — ordered Air Canada to pay $1,000 each to Lisa Crawford and her son, whose August 2021 flights from Fort St. John, BC to Halifax were delayed by 16 hours.

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Earlier this summer, CTA also ordered WestJet to pay $1,000 to a passenger whose canceled flight from Ottawa in July 2021 meant he arrived at his destination in Regina, Sask. 21 hours later than planned.

In both decisions, the CTA ruled that staffing shortages are the airline’s responsibility and not a safety issue, as the airlines had argued. Under Canada’s Air Passenger Protection Regulations, airlines are only required to compensate passengers for delayed and canceled flights if the reason for the disruption is within the airline’s control.

WestJet has filed a motion expressing its intention to appeal the decision, while Air Canada has said it is still reviewing the CTA ruling. Both airlines declined to comment further on the matter.

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However, Lukacs said the CTA currently has a backlog of thousands of complaints from Canadians affected by pandemic-era flight cancellations and delays. He said that while compensation is one thing, the CTA should be handing out harsh fines to airlines that don’t comply with Canada’s passenger protection laws.

The Federal Transportation Agency unveiled the original Air Passenger Protection Rules in 2019, outlining how airlines must inform and reimburse or compensate travelers for everything from delayed flights to damaged luggage. However, there have been exceptions to delays and cancellations that are beyond the airline’s control, such as: B. major weather events or a pandemic.

Updated guidelines introduced earlier this month are an attempt by the federal government to fill a loophole that left some passengers unable to receive cash refunds following pandemic-related flight delays and cancellations. Airlines are now required to issue a full refund for cancellations and delays if passengers are not rebooked on a new flight within 48 hours, including for reasons beyond the airline’s control.

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“These new requirements bring clarity to the timing, cost recovery, payment method and deadlines for refunding travelers in such situations,” German Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said in a press release.

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“They have been developed in a way that is fair and reasonable for passengers, with the aim of not imposing an undue financial burden on airlines that could result in higher travel costs.”

Air Canada and Porter Airlines Inc., along with 17 other claimants, including the International Air Transport Association — which has about 290 member airlines — said in a court filing that the payments required under the country’s new air passenger rights violate international standards and are set to be void.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on September 16, 2022.

© 2022 The Canadian Press Flight disruption compensation not enough to improve air travel in Canada: proponents – National

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