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23 January 2019
The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) is seeking a public review and comment on proposed air passenger protection regulations.
The proposed regulations will establish a carrier's minimum obligations toward passengers travelling on flights to, from and within Canada. The obligations include:
The regulations also provide for penalties for non-compliance.
The proposed regulations would apply to all flights to, from or within Canada, including connecting flights.
Similar regulations exist in the European Union and the United States. However, the proposed Canadian regulations differ in that they will apply to international carriers flying into the jurisdiction (something that neither the EU or the US regulations include).
Communication with passengers
The proposed regulations require carriers to communicate clearly with passengers regarding their rights and recourses.
The requirements for clear communication include:
Obligations in case of delay, cancellation or denied boarding
The proposed regulations entitle passengers to:
A carrier's obligations under the proposed regulations would vary depending on the level of control that the carrier has over the situation that resulted in delay, cancellation or denied boarding.
Under the proposed regulations, in the event of a delay and cancellation, the carrier would have to complete the passenger's itinerary or provide a refund and compensation for the delay if the offered rebooking does not meet the passenger's travel needs.
Specifically, the regulations provide that the carrier would have to rebook the passenger after a delay of three hours or more or after a cancellation.
The passenger would be entitled to be rebooked onto the next available flight. In some instances, the carrier might be required to rebook the passenger onto a new flight with a competing carrier.
The proposed regulations also establish minimum standards of treatment for all delays and cancellations that are either within the carrier's control or required for safety purposes, and where the passenger has been informed of the delay less than 12 hours prior to departure.
In the case of a delay of at least two hours, carriers must provide access to:
If a delay is expected to extend overnight, the carrier must also provide free accommodation and transportation if needed.
When a flight is delayed for more than three hours on the tarmac, the carrier must ensure that:
If there is a delay on the tarmac of more than three hours in Canada, the carrier must allow passengers to disembark, allowing persons with disabilities to disembark first if feasible.
However, carriers would not be required to allow passengers to disembark when take-off is likely to occur in less than 45 minutes or if there are circumstances beyond their control relating to "safety and security or to air traffic or customs control".
Compensation for delay or denied boarding
The proposed regulations provide for compensation for flight delays and cancellations that are within a carrier's control and are not safety related.
Large carriers (those that transported 1 million passengers or more during each of the two preceding calendar years) must pay the following amounts:
Small carriers (any carrier that is not considered a large carrier) must pay the following amounts:
Compensation would also be available if a passenger is denied boarding for a reason that is within the carrier's control and not required for safety (eg, over-booking), in the following amounts:
Compensation for lost or damaged luggage
The Montreal Convention currently governs liability for lost or damaged luggage on international flights between member states. It sets the maximum liability for damages for lost or damaged luggage at 1,131 special drawing rights (approximately C$2,100).
The proposed regulations would extend the application of this regime to domestic travel and require the carrier to reimburse luggage fees.
The proposed regulations also deal with:
Penalties for non-compliance
The proposed regulations provide for administrative monetary penalties when a carrier or individual contravenes the requirements. The maximum penalty is C$5,000 for individuals and C$25,000 for corporations, depending on which provisions are breached.
Canadians will have two months to comment on the proposed regulations. The regulations will likely come into force in Summer 2019.
For further information on this topic please contact Carlos P Martins or Emma Romano at Bersenas Jacobsen Chouest Thomson Blackburn LLP by telephone (+1 416 982 3800) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com). The Bersenas Jacobsen Chouest Thomson Blackburn website can be accessed at www.lexcanada.com.
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Carlos P Martins