Air Canada ordered to pay $1,000 to two passengers on canceled flight

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Air Canada ordered to pay $1,000 to two passengers on canceled flight

Air Canada refused to offer compensation to these travelers whose flight was canceled at the last minute citing security concerns.

The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) in August ordered Air Canada to pay financial compensation to two passengers following the cancellation of their flight due to a lack of crew.

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In a decision published on August 25, the CTA awarded compensation of $1,000 each to Lisa Crawford and her son, following the cancellation of their flight which delayed their trip from Fort St. John, British Columbia to Halifax, Nova Scotia by nearly 16 hours.

According to the CTA, when Ms. Crawford asked the airline for an explanation, Air Canada told her that the flight cancellation was due to a crew shortage related to COVID-19, she and her son were not eligible for compensation because the flight was canceled for a safety-related reason.

Under Canada's Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPR), airlines are only required to pay compensation – up to $1,000 per passenger – if the flight cancellation or delay falls under the responsibility of the carrier and that it is not linked to a safety issue.

Dissatisfied with the response, Ms. Crawford took the matter to the Canadian Transportation Agency, which ultimately agreed with her.

According to the OTC, staffing and other aspects of operations are the responsibility of the employer and that undermanning and the resulting consequences are therefore the responsibility of the company. Aerial.

The OTC explains in its decision that Air Canada did not provide evidence establishing that the lack of crew was inevitable despite planning adequate, and that therefore Mrs. Crawford and her son should be compensated.

WestJet was also ordered to compensate a passenger whose flight was canceled for lack of on-board personnel.< /p>

I was pleased with the CTA's conclusion, Ms. Crawford told CBC, although she doubts this case carries much weight in the legal battle currently unfolding across the country to determine whether companies airlines must compensate passengers for flight disruptions caused by the lack of crew.

Indeed, WestJet recently filed to appeal a similar OTC decision last July, in which the carrier was ordered to compensate a passenger for a flight delay due to a lack of crew. The airline argues that the CTA's decision was ill-founded, as it was based on a misinterpretation of Canadian air passenger rules.

Given the continuing disagreement over how the regulations should be interpreted and/or applied, I believe that the actual outcome of my case, and likely many others , remains to be seen, Crawford said.

As of last May 1, the CTA has received 13,743 complaints from passengers, 87% of which are related to disruptions flights.

The CTA's decision in the WestJet case, released on July 8, was expected to help clarify some of these compensation disputes.

In In the case, WestJet had initially denied passenger Owen Lareau, of Ottawa, compensation for a flight cancellation, saying it was due to the availability of an airline. #x27;a crew member and that it was necessary for security reasons.

The agency had ordered WestJet to pay Mr. Lareau $1,000.

“Training and staffing is under the control of airlines and therefore crew shortages are within the control of the airlines, unless there is compelling evidence to the contrary.

—Tom Oommen, Analysis and Liaison Branch, Canadian Transportation Agency

But in a motion filed in the Federal Court of Appeals on Aug. 10, WestJet argued that under the APPR, the CTA cannot assume that crew shortages warrant compensation, and then put the onus on the airlines to refute it.

For Me John Lawford, lawyer and director of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, WestJet takes a close reading of the rules. The airline says, “That's fine, we'll only follow the current wording of the regulations and we'll go to court.”

WestJet, the OTC and Owen Lareau all three declined to comment on the matter.

The Canadian Transportation Agency has received thousands of complaints from passengers whose flights have been canceled by air carriers.

According to John Gradek, a former Air Canada executive now a lecturer and coordinator of the aviation management program at McGill University, some airlines will continue to refuse to compensate passengers for flight disruptions caused by lack of crew, unless expressly established in law.

< p>“They will continue on this path until they are told otherwise. They will keep trying to get by without paying, because it's a very big expense.

—John Gradek, Lecturer and Coordinator of the Aviation Management Program at McGill University

Asked by CBC News about its intentions following the CTA's decision, Air Canada replied through its spokesperson, Peter Ftizpatrick, that the company was unable to comment because it is still reviewing the decision.

It should be noted that Air Canada, like a dozen other players in the airline industry, including the International Air Transport Association, have been engaged since 2019 in a legal battle to have the Regulations on the protection of air passengers for international flights because it differs from the Montreal Convention, a treaty adopted by many countries – including Canada – which establishes the liability of airlines in the event of flight disruptions.

I think before Christmas we will find out from the Federal Court of Appeal whether or not the entire APPR scheme is thrown out, Lawford said .

According to him, Federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra should help passengers make compensation claims by sending a strong message to airlines to remind them that they must comply with compensation rules. compensation established by the CTA.

The Minister should spank these guys, these airlines, and say, “How dare you, how dare you screw up my regulations?", thunders the director of the Public Interest Advocacy Centre.

Since August, Minister Alghabra has publicly warned, on several occasions, the airlines that they had to follow the rules. But, so far, his warnings have failed to reduce the flood of air passenger complaints flooding the CTA; it currently has a backlog of over 23,000 grievances.

With information from Sophia Harris of CBC News

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