Canadian passenger protection regulations ready for public comment

December 18, 2018
Written by Wings Staff
Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, yesterday announced that the Government of Canada is one step closer to providing Canadians with a new air passenger protection rights. The Canadian Transportation Agency’s proposed air passenger protection regulations will be published in the Canada Gazette Part I on December 22, 2018, for a final 60-day public comment period.

Transport Canada explains the Transportation Modernization Act mandated the agency to develop regulations for air travellers that would be clear, consistent, transparent and fair. After months of public and stakeholder consultations, Canadians will now have an opportunity to review the proposed regulations and have their say.

RELATED: Problematic bill of rights, moving Canada in its own direction of passenger and airline cooperation

As of December 22, Canadians can visit Canada Gazette Part I to comment on Transport Canada’s proposed regulations on the collection of air travel performance data from air service providers. This data will be collected in areas such as on-time performance and security wait times, from service providers including airport authorities, the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) and NAV Canada.

“Our government is pleased with the progress made in strengthening air passenger rights for Canadians, and that Canadians have had – and continue to have – a chance to shape these rules,” said Garneau. “An airline ticket is a contract for service, and it imposes obligations on both the airline and on the traveller. Once finalized, these regulations will create a more predictable and balanced approach that will benefit both.”

Following Garneau’s update on the the upcoming publication of passenger rights regulations, Massimo Bergamini, president and CEO of the National Airlines Council of Canada, released the following statement:

"The release today of a backgrounder on key aspects of soon-to-be published passenger rights regulations brings this two-year process designed to "improve the air travel experience" nearer to its conclusion. Whether it will ever reach that destination, however, remains very much an open question.

There are two main reasons for our concern.

First, today's hurried announcement produced only a backgrounder, meaning that a detailed assessment both in terms of costs, efficacy and unintended consequences will have to wait until publication of the draft regulation on December 22nd.

Second, while this process was meant to put an exclamation mark on Transport Minister Garneau's 2016 commitment to "greater choice, better service, lower costs, and new rights for [air] travelers" it has fallen short of what is needed.

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. 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.

The minister chose to frame the issues at the core of his 2016 commitment to passengers as largely the domain of the air carriers. Putting a black hat on air carriers might make for a compelling narrative, but it fails the policy test.

The reason? Air travel is incredibly complex.

Each day across Canada, some 350,000 people embark on a plane for one of the more than 15,000 flights that take off and land at Canadian airports. This involves the coordinated efforts of thousands of skilled, dedicated people working in airlines, airports, air traffic control, air security and border services, and even government policy-making.

Ensuring a safe, economical and pleasant air travel experience is a shared responsibility, involving thousands of people and dozens of organizations that form the aviation ecosystem, and the role of each must be considered and facilitated.

These regulations don't do this – not even close.

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.  

Every day our member carriers, and the over 45,000 dedicated women and men that serve their passengers and guests strive to offer the very best service – safe, comfortable and economical.  They are committed to improving the air travel experience every day and will continue to do so.

We want the government of Canada to acknowledge that more needs to be done, and work with us and our partners of the aviation ecosystem to make air travel a Canadian advantage."

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