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Exceptions to Passenger Protection Regulations amid COVID-19 pandemic


March 16, 2020
Wings Staff

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The Canadian Transportation Agency has identified situations related to the COVID-19 pandemic that are to be considered “outside of the air carrier’s control.” These include flight disruptions to locations that are covered by a government advisory against travel or unnecessary travel due to COVID-19.

Finalized in December 2019, the Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPR), which are overseen by the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA), set air carriers’ obligations to passengers that vary depending on whether the situation is: Within the air carrier’s control; within the air carrier’s control but required for safety; or outside the air carrier’s control.

The APPR provide a list of situations considered “outside the air carrier’s control,” including medical emergencies and orders or instructions from state officials. In these situations, air carriers would not be required to provide standards of treatment or compensation for inconvenience. However, they would have to make sure the passenger completes their itinerary.

Until April 30, the time at which passengers will be entitled to compensation for inconvenience related to flight cancellations or delays will be adjusted, to provide air carriers with more flexibility to modify schedules and combine flights.

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The CTA explains air carriers will be allowed to make schedule changes without owing compensation to passengers until 72 hours before a scheduled departure time (instead of 14 days), and air carriers will be obligated to compensate passengers for delays on arrival that are fully within the air carrier’s control once those delays are six hours or more in length (instead of three hours).

The CTA has also exempted air carriers from offering alternative travel arrangements that include flights on other air carrier’s with which they have no commercial agreement. After April 30, the CTA states it will decide whether these temporary measures should be extended for an additional period of time.

“The CTA recognizes that this is a very challenging time for both airlines and air passengers,” said Scott Streiner, chair and CEO of the Canadian Transportation Agency. “The temporary measures we’ve taken today strike a balance between, on the one hand, giving airlines the necessary flexibility to adjust schedules in the face of rapidly falling passenger numbers and very fluid circumstances and, on the other hand, making sure passengers are well-protected.”

All other air passenger entitlements under the Air Passenger Protection Regulations remain in force and unchanged, including those related to communication, tarmac delays and seating of children.