CTA looking into complaints regarding reasons for flight delays or cancellations

The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) opened an inquiry into complaints from air passengers alleging that airlines are not accurately communicating the reasons for flight delays or cancellations.

Porter Airlines staff help passengers at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport.
The APPR include a requirement that airlines tell passengers the reason for a flight delay or cancellation. Andy Cline Photo
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On Dec. 15, 2019, the flight delay and cancellation provisions of the Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPR) came into force.

The APPR include a requirement that airlines tell passengers the reason for a flight delay or cancellation. This is important because the reason for a flight disruption affects passenger entitlements:

  • If a flight is delayed or cancelled for reasons fully within the airline’s control, passengers have a right to compensation for inconvenience and standards of treatment like food and water.
  • If a flight is delayed or cancelled for reasons within the airline’s control but required for safety – such as a mechanical issue that could not have been identified and fixed during regular maintenance – passengers have a right to standards of treatment, but not compensation.
  • If the flight is delayed or cancelled for reasons outside the airline’s control – like bad weather – the airline only has to ensure that passengers can complete their journeys.

The CTA has received multiple complaints regarding flights operated since Dec. 15 alleging that airlines have failed to accurately communicate the reasons for delays or cancellations. Looking into these allegations through a single process is the most efficient way of dealing with the issues they raise, and ensuring that the requirements of the regulations are clear for both passengers and airlines.

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The CTA’s chief compliance officer has been appointed as an inquiry officer for this process. Over the next six weeks, he will collect and analyze evidence, including evidence from airlines on the delays and cancellations that are the subject of the complaints. Decisions on next steps will be made once the inquiry officer’s report is submitted.

“Airlines have an obligation, under the Air Passenger Protection Regulations, to provide timely, accurate information to passengers on the reasons for flight delays and cancellations. This inquiry will look into allegations that in some cases, airlines haven’t lived up to this obligation. If the evidence shows that happened, we’ll take appropriate action. The CTA is committed to ensuring that passengers and airlines understand what the rules are when there’s a flight disruption – and that those rules are followed,” said Scott Streiner, chair and CEO of the Canadian Transportation Agency.

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