Sanctions on airlines are too low, say experts
WestJet and Flair have committed the most ;offences. Sunwing received the heaviest fine.
Travelers with Sunwing airline tickets have been stranded at Cancun International Airport in Mexico, but also in Cuba and the Dominican Republic due to delayed and canceled flights.
The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) has imposed dozens of fines on air carriers after the delays and cancellations during the summer and in December 2022. However, industry experts believe that the amount is not enough of a deterrent.
The fines are too low, criticizes Ian Jack, spokesman for the Canadian Automobile Association. We are still waiting to see the regulator pull out the big stick.
Most fines fall in the range of $2,500 to $39,000. The maximum fine per violation the CTA can issue, however, is $25,000.
Thompson Rivers University Assistant Professor of Law Matt Malone says the CTA should use all the tools at his disposal.
The purpose of fines is to force airlines to comply with regulations and that is not what is happening, he laments.
According to the CTA website, the Alberta companies Flair and WestJet are the ones that have committed the most violations of the Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPR).
WestJet was fined $112,800 for failing to provide compensation to its travelers within 30 days for flights between July 2022 and January 2023.
Flair was fined $28,000 for 144 similar violations between December 2021 and July 2022. That averages out to $200 per violation.
The Edmonton-based carrier was also fined a total of $39,000 for 40 violations last summer.
The highest monetary penalty, however, was given to Sunwing. The airline had to pay $126,000 for not keeping its passengers informed about delays and cancellations in December.
Mohammad Jazayeri and Setareh Sajadi were stranded in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for six days after their Sunwing flight was canceled on December 21. It's a joke. $126,000 means nothing.
The couple had to spend $1,544 to book a return flight with another airline. He received $500 compensation for the cancellation of their original flight, but he still hasn't gotten a response to their request for reimbursement of their new flight.
According the response email they received from the CTA, the wait to process their complaint is over 18 months.
Sunwing was fined the heaviest for lack of communication during flight cancellations and delays in December.
According to the Agency's spokesman, Tom Oommen, the amount of fines is proportional to the impact on travelers and there are few penalties for first offenses.
We tell the airlines that we are watching them and when we find violations they will be punished, he says.
The CTA has over 40,000 overdue complaints, however. treatment, which is problematic according to Ian Jack of the Canadian Automobile Association. The whole system is on life support. It's not working as it should, he says.
Sunwing did not respond to requests for comment. WestJet and Flair have indicated compliance with the Air Passenger Protection Regulations. WestJet also added that the scale of the flight disruption makes it difficult to respond within 30 days, but the CTA has not given it flexibility.
The government Tuesday announced $75.9 million in additional funding over three years to help the Agency deal with the backlog of complaints.
D' ;after information from Sophia Harris