Airlines failed to prepare adequately for new passenger rights charter: report
Empty seats are seen during a flight from Vancouver to Calgary, Tuesday, June 9, 2020. Airlines in Canada and around the world are suffering financially due to the lack of travel and travel bans due to COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, November 5, 2020 4:02PM EST
OTTAWA - Canada's transportation regulator says poor preparation by airlines for the new air passenger rights charter led to communication problems that frustrated travellers and denied some their proper compensation following flight delays or cancellations.
However, the report from an inquiry officer at the Canadian Transportation Agency says it found no evidence to suggest the six airlines investigated deliberately mischaracterized flight disruptions or miscommunicated to passengers with the aim of worming out of their obligations.
Some 3,000 complaints filed by customers between Dec. 15 and Feb. 13 triggered the inquiry, shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic prompted roughly 10,000 more complaints and created a massive backlog at the transportation agency.
The initial complaints had alleged that Air Canada, Sunwing, Air Transat, United Airlines, WestJet and its Swoop subsidiary did not accurately communicate the reasons for delays or nixed flights in a bid to avoid paying for problems within the carriers' control.
The federal government rolled out its Air Passenger Protection Regulations last year, which lay out compensation requirements for incidents ranging from tarmac delays to flight bumping.
The agency says it is now inviting passengers to file statements on the issues highlighted in the report.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 5, 2020.