A recent ruling by Canada’s transport regulator in favor of two Air Canada passengers whose flights were delayed revolves around whether airlines must compensate passengers for flight disruptions caused by crew shortages. This is the latest development in the ongoing battle.
in the decision Released on August 25The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) has informed Air Canada that passengers Lisa Crawford and her son have been informed in August 2021 following the cancellation of a flight from Fort St. John, British Columbia to Halifax, which was delayed by nearly 16 hours. They ordered compensation of $1,000 each.
According to the CTA, Air Canada originally told Crawford that the flight cancellation was due to a COVID-19-related crew shortage and was safety-related, so it would not be covered.
The airline’s response prompted Crawford to take her case to the CTA, a quasi-judicial court.
“Staffing and other aspects of operations are the responsibility of the employer to manage,” Crawford said in an email to CBC News.
The CTA agreed, saying Crawford and her son must be compensated because Air Canada failed to provide evidence that “despite proper planning, a crew shortage was inevitable.”
under Canadian Air Passenger Protection Regulation (APPR)the airline must pay compensation of up to $1,000 per passenger only if the flight cancellation or delay is within the airline’s control and not required for safety reasons.
“I’m thrilled with the CTA’s findings,” said Crawford, but she and others question whether the case will ever be so significant.
The reason is WestJet recently bring the action A similar CTA ruling was handed down in July, ordering WestJet to compensate passengers for flight delays caused by a crew shortage. The airline claims the CTA’s decision was flawed because it was based on a misunderstanding of Canada’s air passenger regulations.
“Given the continuing disagreements about how the regulations should be interpreted and/or applied, I think the actual outcome of my case, and probably many others, remains to be seen.
Court battle raises questions
Received 13,743 according to CTA air passenger complaints Since May 1, 87% of them are related to flight disruptions.
The CTA’s decision in the WestJet case, issued on July 8, should have helped clear up some of those compensation disputes.
In that case, WestJet initially denied compensation for Ottawa passenger Owen LaReau’s canceled flight, saying it was “affected by crew availability and necessary for safety reasons.” .
In that decision CTA clarification Generally, staffing issues are the responsibility of the airline and cannot be classified as a safety issue, so compensation is usually required.
The agency also ordered WestJet to pay LaRoe $1,000.
CTA spokesperson Tom Oommen said: “Unless there is compelling evidence, training and staffing are under the airline’s control, so the crew shortage is under the airline’s control.” increase. in an interview“It’s a high threshold.”
However, in a motion filed with the Federal Court of Appeals on August 10, WestJet stated that, according to APPR, the CTA presumed that the crew shortage was what justified compensation, and rebutted it to the airline. He argued that he could not be held responsible for
Consumer advocate and attorney John Lawford said WestJet is offering a narrow interpretation of the rule, with a CTA ruling due in July. I set out to uncover them.
“[The airline is] “That’s good. Just follow the actual wording of the rules and you’ll be taken to court.” “
WestJet, CTA and passenger Lareau each declined to comment on the matter.
Former Air Canada executive John Gladek said he believes some airlines will continue to refuse to compensate for flight disruptions due to crew shortages.
“They will continue down this path until told otherwise,” said Gradek, an instructor and program coordinator in the Aviation Management Program at McGill University.
“It’s such a serious expense that they’ll keep trying to get away without paying it.”
“Upon confirmation of your reservation, we were unable to approve your claim for compensation. A significant reason for the flight interruption was the availability of cabin crew.”
Apparently this is my problem…
Never ride WestJet. ever. Worst airline ever.
“The minister should hit these guys.”
CBC News asked Air Canada if it plans to appeal the CTA’s decision to have to pay compensation for Crawford and her son, as well as WestJet.
Spokesperson Peter Fitzpatrick said the airline was still reviewing the ruling and could not comment.
However, Air Canada is already involved in a legal battle that calls into question Canada’s compensation rules. This airline is he one of over 12 applicants including the International Air Transport Association. filed a motion for appeal in 2019 APPR.
That case, still pending in the Federal Court of Appeals, claims the applicant is “invalid” for international flights because the rules are different. Montreal Conventiona treaty adopted by many countries, including Canada, establishing airline liability for flight disruptions.
“Before Christmas, it will be clear from the Federal Court of Appeals whether the entire APPR regime will be scrapped,” Lawford, executive director of the Center for Public Interest Advocacy, said.
Lawford said Federal Transport Minister Omar Al-Ghabra needs to help passengers claim compensation by sending a tough message to airlines that they must comply with the compensation rules laid down by the CTA. rice field.
“The minister should slap these guys, these airlines, and say, ‘How are you going to screw up my regulations?'” Lawford said.
Since August, Algabra has repeatedly issued public warnings to airlines that they must follow the rules.
“Passengers have rights and need to be respected,” he said. in a statement last week“We will continue to protect the interests of our passengers if trips do not go as planned.”
So far, though, the warning hasn’t curbed the flood of air passenger complaints flooding the CTA. We currently face over 23,000 outstanding complaints.