Published on : Wednesday, May 17, 2017
Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau has introduced legislation that will set national standards for how passengers should be treated by airlines.
Mr Garneau said the bill would give the government the tools it needs to protect air travellers.
The proposed new rules will apply to any airline operating flights in and out of Canada.
The new rules are expected to be in place by 2018.
The minister said the details related to passenger rights in instances like overbooking and bumping are still being developed but that there must be compensation in those cases.
He said air carriers will not be able to involuntarily remove from flights people who have a legitimate right to travel.
The proposed rules would set minimum compensation standards for overbooked flights and lost or damaged luggage, and set out how airlines must treat passengers when a flight is delayed or cancelled in situation within the airline’s control or during events like bad weather. It will also set standards for tarmac delays.
Mr Garneau announced plans for the rights bill last year, but restated the promise as footage of a US passenger being forcibly removed from a United Airlines flight made global headlines in April.
Canadian news has since been filled with stories of people coming forward with travel woes.
Ian Jack, of the Canadian Automobile Association, which lobbies for passenger rights, said it is too early to say whether the minister’s promises will mean better travel for passengers because the “devil is in the details”.
The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) will establish the details such as levels of compensation and the rules around bumping over the next few months.
“The jury’s out on whether they are going to be able to deliver,” said Mr Jack.
“There’s a big difference between the concept of compensation and whether you’re going to be offered a coffee coupon or $750. That has still to be worked out.”
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) says some 60 countries have some form of passenger rights protection already in place.
The CTA receives an average of about 50 complaints a year from passengers saying they were denied boarding.
The federal government also said on Tuesday it plans to loosen international ownership restrictions in the industry to boost competition. The bill would allow international companies to own up to 49% of Canadian air carriers, up from a 25% cap.