While the full legislation is yet to be released, Canada’s proposed air passenger protections have come up short in the eyes of some critics.
The protections, announced yesterday by Transport Minister Marc Garneau, target areas such as tarmac delays, passenger compensation and the seating of children with parents; a full document detailing the proposed legislation will be released Saturday (Dec. 22).
The critics' take
For airline watchdog Gabor Lukacs of Air Passenger Rights, he alleges that the proposed regulations will “enshrine substantial reductions in the rights of Canadian air passengers,” citing factors such as the three-hour limit for confining passengers during tarmac delays (which he says doubled from 90 minutes in previous legislation); a lack of passenger compensation for delays caused by maintenance issues; and what he perceives as little movement on enforcing compensation rates for lost or damaged baggage.
“The proposed regulations from the Transport Minister confirm the fears of Air Passenger Rights and consumer rights advocates, and ignore the concerns raised by the Senate Transport and Communications Committee,” Lukacs said in a statement. “Despite this opposition, the regulations are expected to be enacted unchanged. The Minister, the government, and the CTA have shown no interest in responding to the needs of Canadians or the concerns of the Senate, so we do not expect any change in their approach.”
Massimo Bergamini, president and CEO of the National Airlines Council of Canada, said that the protections announced this week have “fallen short of what is needed” for air travellers, stating that government policy alone is not enough to improve conditions.
“The regulations and the federal policy that support them will not lead to greater choice or better service - that is the fruit of a competitive marketplace and entrepreneurial innovation,” Bergamini said. “And with the federal government contemplating policies that would add billions of dollars to the cost of air travel in Canada over the next decade, they certainly will not reduce the cost of air travel.
“There is so much that needs to be done to get to destination: cutting federal taxes and fees that make Canada one of the highest cost jurisdictions in the world; improving air passenger security and border screening; modernizing outdated regulations to name a few.”
Airlines weigh in
Canada’s airlines are also watching the outcome of the announcement.
“We are reviewing yesterday’s announcement,” read a statement from Air Canada. “We note that we already meet or exceed some regulations released today by the government. We will review the regulatory language which will be released on Dec. 22, and will be participating in the consultation process relating to the new regulations.”
In a statement, WestJet added:
"Once the draft regulations are released, WestJet will review the regulations for potential impact on the obligations of our partners in the air travel supply chain, including federal government agencies, along with potential impacts on airfares and consumers. We look forward to the opportunity to participate in the upcoming public consultation to ensure the draft regulations achieve the appropriate balance sought by the Minister of Transport."