Canada plans to strengthen air passenger protections

Interior of Billy Bishop Airport, Toronto Canada.
Raysonho @ Open Grid Scheduler / Scalable Grid Engine, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) is seeking public input on proposed amendments to the Canada Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPR).

These amendments aim to simplify and strengthen protections for Canadian air passengers with regards to compensation for inconvenience caused by flight disruptions.

Simplifying compensation for flight disruptions


Under the current regulations, passengers are categorized into three groups, determining the compensation they are entitled to in case of flight disruptions. However, the proposed amendments eliminate these categories.

Airlines will now be required to compensate passengers for any inconvenience caused by flight disruptions, except in cases of exceptional circumstances.

The burden of proof to establish exceptional circumstances will be placed on the airlines themselves. The objective of the consultations is to define and clarify these exceptional circumstances.

Comprehensive regulatory amendments


Alongside the changes in compensation, the CTA is also proposing additional amendments to regulations based on lessons learned since the APPR came into effect in 2019.

These amendments cover assistance (standards of treatment), communication requirements, and the establishment of passenger entitlements applicable to all flight disruptions, as well as those specific to exceptional circumstances.

Strengthening dispute resolution and cost recovery


In addition to the proposed regulatory changes, the Budget Implementation Act (BIA) introduces significant improvements to enhance the efficiency of the CTA’s dispute resolution process.

It also grants the CTA the authority to recover the costs associated with processing air passenger complaints from the airlines. This cost recovery aspect will be the subject of a separate consultation process later in 2023.

A commitment to better services for Canadians


“The Canadian Transportation Agency welcomes the opportunity to improve the air passenger protection regime,” says France Pégeot, Chair and CEO of the Canadian Transportation Agency.

 We are committed to improving how air passengers’ complaints are processed and to providing better services to Canadians.”

Other nations strengthening protections


The move by Canada to strengthen air passenger protections follows similar measures by other nations. Countries that are planning to strengthen air passenger protections to enforce airlines to pay compensation for flight disruptions include:

United Kingdom: The UK government has announced plans to boost protections for airline passengers, including stronger enforcement powers for the regulator and access to faster and cheaper dispute resolution. The proposals also include increased compensation for damaged wheelchairs.

European Union: The EU is also considering changes to its air passenger rights regulations, which could include increasing compensation for flight disruptions.

United States: The US Department of Transportation is currently reviewing its air passenger rights regulations, and it is possible that the rules could be strengthened in the future.

Australia: Australia is also considering changes to its air passenger rights regulations, which could include increasing compensation for flight disruptions.

By eliminating the current categorization system and requiring airlines to compensate passengers for inconvenience caused by flight disruptions, except in exceptional circumstances, Canada seeks to enhance passenger rights and ensure fairness in air travel.

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