Ottawa moves to protect air passengers

Federal Transportation Minister Marc Garneau

The federal government is rolling out its air passenger protection regulations on the eve of the summer travel season setting out what compensation airlines must pay for failing to provide adequate services to passengers.

The new regulations announced Friday will be launched in two phases. Some regulations come into force on July 15, while others will not take effect until December 15.

“Our goal was to provide a world-leading approach to air passenger rights that would be predictable and fair for passengers while ensuring our air carriers remain strong and competitive,” Transport Minister Marc Garneau said in a statement.

“After a long and thorough consultation process, I am proud to say these new regulations achieve that balance and will give air travellers the rights and treatment they pay for and deserve,” he added.

The regulations will apply to all flights to, from and within Canada, including connecting flights. Large airlines, those that have serviced two million passengers or more in the last two years, will have a slightly different regulatory regime than smaller airlines in some cases.

Smaller airlines, for example, will have to pay less compensation for delays or cancellations that are within the airline’s control but are not related to safety issues.

Broadly, flight disruptions — tarmac delays, flight cancellations, and denials of boarding — that are within an airline’s control require compensation be paid, standards of treatment be upheld and the passenger’s itinerary be completed.

Flight disruptions within an airline’s control but required for safety reasons will not require compensation but airlines will have to maintain a standard of treatment and complete a passenger’s itinerary.

Situations outside an airline’s control that cause a flight disruption will only require the airline to ensure the passenger’s itinerary is completed.   

Situations within an airline’s control include overbooking and scheduled maintenance.

Delays within an airline’s control due to safety include mechanical problems and safety calls made by the pilot.

Disruptions outside an airline’s control include a wide range of possibilities such as political instability, weather, natural disasters and security threats.


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