OTTAWA – 10 August 2023 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) has joined with noted air passenger protection group Air Passenger Rights (APR) and dispute resolution expert, Professor Marina Pavlović, to file submissions on the proposed changes to Canada’s Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPR).
Consumer protection in air travel has faced serious regulatory, industry, and political headwinds in the pandemic era and the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA), which is charged with regulating passenger air travel, has proposed additional changes to the APPR. Our joint submissions to the CTA seek to bring Canada’s air passenger protection rules up to international standards, so that passengers are issued compensation for cancellations and excessive delays, provided support in airports during delays, and given full rights when denied boarding.
The CTA consultation proposed half-measures to improve Canada’s air passenger protections such as proposing to emulate the European Union’s rules that require passenger compensation for delays and cancellations in all but “exceptional circumstances”. It also claims they will remove the much hated “for safety reasons” category of incidents where airlines can deny compensation. However, the CTA paper also lists for consideration numerous potential “exceptional circumstances” that appear to mirror the present “for safety reasons” loophole. The CTA paper also claims the burden of proof for denying passenger compensation will be on the airline, but the potential for excessive exceptions may undo this reversal.
“We have provided the CTA with a consumer-first roadmap to the best practices worldwide,” said Dr. Gábor Lukács, President of APR. “The CTA can choose to materially improve air travel for Canadians prior to the next holiday season by ensuring compensation, passenger care and respect for travellers are of paramount importance in the system.”
John Lawford, Executive Director of PIAC added: “No consumer will argue against an airline claiming safety is a first priority, but the real issue is why consumers should be the insurers of airline profitability for crew shortages, equipment failure or scheduling changes that strand passengers, often without compensation, away from home, when they have paid for air travel.”
Professor Pavlović’s work focuses on the rules for consumer redress. She noted that: “Our concerns with the proposed changes is that if they are not properly designed, consumers may face a difficult to navigate complaint system and the backlog of complaints may grow. This is avoidable by prioritizing transparency, fairness and predictability – largely by simplifying the categories that can lead to a dispute.”
The Public Interest Advocacy Centre is a national not-for-profit corporation and a federally registered charity that protects consumer interest in regulated industries such as telecommunications, energy, financial services, privacy and transportation.
For further information, please contact:
Executive Director and General Counsel, PIAC
Tel: 613-562-4002 x 125
About Air Passenger Rights
Air Passenger Rights is Canada’s independent, nonprofit organization of volunteers working to make the travelling public aware of its rights and capable of enforcing them. The organization’s mission is to turn helpless passengers into empowered travelers through education, advocacy, investigation, and litigation.
About Professor Pavlović
Marina Pavlović is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law, Common Law Section at the University of Ottawa and is a member of its Centre for Law, Technology and Society.
— 30 —