Atlantic Canada premiers say passenger rights proposals could hurt air travel in the region

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An Air Canada Airbus A220-300 airliner from Toronto arrives at Halifax Stanfield Worldwide Airport in Enfield, N.S. in June, 2021.Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press

The premiers of the 4 Atlantic provinces say proposed modifications to the principles that dictate how airways deal with passengers when flights are delayed or cancelled will unfairly burden the carriers and result in lowered providers in Jap Canada.

The federal authorities launched deliberate modifications to the Air Passenger Safety Rules final yr that might broaden the circumstances through which passengers are owed compensation for delays, and place the burden on airways to point out why disruptions are exterior their management. The amendments would additionally give passengers the correct to refunds if their flights depart at the least three hours late.

In a current letter to federal Transport Minister Pablo Rodriguez, the Atlantic leaders warn that the modifications into account would drive up seat costs as airways attempt to get better the upper prices of complying with the legislation. The prices may additionally discourage airways from providing or increasing flights at some smaller regional airports, the premiers say.

The letter, dated Jan. 12, was despatched by the Council of Atlantic Premiers, a gaggle that’s chaired by Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Andrew Furey. Its different members are Dennis King, Premier of Prince Edward Island; Tim Houston, Premier of Nova Scotia; and Blaine Higgs, Premier of New Brunswick. The council posted the letter to its web site on Jan. 22.

The proposed modifications to the so-called passenger invoice of rights embrace requiring smaller airways to rebook passengers on different airways within the case of sure sorts of disruptions. However many smaller airways in Atlantic Canada are the one obtainable carriers of their areas, and a few of them function in particularly harsh winter circumstances.

“Whereas these and different proposed modifications are meant to guard passengers and enhance air journey high quality in Canada, they’re significantly difficult within the context of servicing passengers in regional markets and don’t acknowledge the distinct points related to flight frequency and availability in smaller market centres,” the letter says.

“We’re involved that the proposed regulatory modifications are prone to imply even additional elevated prices for Atlantic residents as airways look to recoup the prices of regulatory compliance. It could additionally end in airways changing into hesitant to proceed, resume or present service to regional markets, finally limiting regional air accessibility for passengers.”

Laura Scaffidi, a spokesperson for Mr. Rodriguez, stated the brand new guidelines will shield passengers whereas recognizing the operational variations at regional and distant airports. “Canadians work laborious and save as much as journey,” she stated. “Airways must do higher for Canadians.”

The premiers’ letter comes at a time of last-minute lobbying earlier than the draft modifications are revealed within the Canada Gazette, a authorities publication. The modifications will develop into legislation after a interval of session. The federal government has not set a timetable for this.

The passenger safety rules, launched in 2019, define requirements of care – meals, lodging, refunds and compensation – to which passengers are entitled if their flights are late or cancelled, or their baggage is misplaced. As an illustration, a traveller is owed $1,000 if their flight is 9 or extra hours late for a motive that’s throughout the airline’s management.

Critics of the present regulations say they’re tilted in favour of the airways, that are allowed to dodge refunds by claiming disruptions are associated to security. This led to a backlog of greater than 50,000 passenger complaints final fall on the Canadian Transportation Company, which adjudicates these claims.

The Canadian Vehicle Affiliation, which operates a journey company, is among the many teams pushing for modifications to the principles.

Ian Jack, a spokesperson for the CAA, stated the group helps clarifying the principles and making it simpler for passengers to say what they’re owed by airways.

“We expect it’s doable to try this with out unfairly impacting carriers,” Mr. Jack stated. “We’ve stated from the beginning that we’d like a viable aggressive airline trade on this nation as a result of that additionally offers customers extra alternative at higher costs. And we expect it’s very doable to do each.”

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