According to Canada’s Minister of Transportation, a clause in the consumer protection recommendations in the country’s budget legislation will require airlines to compensate passengers for significant service disruptions, except in rare circumstances such as snowstorms.
Particularly during the height of congestion last summer, passenger complaints against airlines for lengthy delays or flight cancelations increased as commercial air service resumed following the COVID-19 pandemic.
The regulations would make it more difficult for airlines to avoid paying out to a passenger who complains unless they can prove otherwise.
While the revisions would make compensation standards unless specifically mentioned as a limited exception, airlines would also be required to establish an internal procedure for processing air travel claims.
“This means there will be no more loopholes where airlines can claim a disruption is caused by something outside of their control or a security reason when it is not,” Canada’s Transport Minister Omar Alghabra told reporters in Ottawa.
“It will no longer be the passenger who will have to prove that he or she is entitled to compensation. It will now be the airline that will need to prove that it does not have to pay for it.”
In addition, the tightening would give the Canadian Transport Agency (CTA) more authority to impose fines and negotiate compliance agreements with airlines.
The measure would revise the current process to allow for quicker decisions and expand the agency’s authority to set fees to cover its costs of processing complaints.
More than 44,000 complaints have been filed with the CTA, a quasi-judicial body responsible for enforcing current laws on airline passenger refunds.
Airlines have claimed that they are being made to pay for interruptions frequently brought on by other market participants, such as airports.
“These measures are not meant to demonize airlines,” Alghabra added.