People line up and check in for an international flight at Pearson International airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Canadian Transportation Agency seeks input on proposed changes to airline rules

Canadian Transportation Agency seeks input on proposed changes to airline rules

The Canadian Transportation Agency is seeking input from the public about requests by airlines to weaken regulations that protect airline passengers.

Airlines and industry groups have asked the regulator to temporarily remove certain aspects of its Air Passenger Protection Regulations that require them to rebook flights and compensate passengers under certain circumstances.

The CTA says it is considering the airlines’ request and is seeking feedback from members of the public that it will use in deciding whether to implement them.

“The CTA will consider all the information submitted — including in this public consultation — and make its final determination as soon as possible,” the organization said in a statement Friday.

The airlines’ requests to modify the rules stem from the economic toll that COVID-19 has had on the industry, the CTA says.

The airline industry has maintained that it has the right to give passengers flight vouchers instead of full refunds for flights cancelled due to COVID-19.

The federal government has said that any financial aid for the airline sector is contingent on their giving passengers full refunds for cancelled tickets.

The CTA is a regulatory body that enforces rules around rights and responsibilities for transportation providers and their customers.

The announcement comes several days after members of various consumer groups testified in a meeting of Parliament’s standing committee on transport, infrastructure and communities that the airlines weren’t meeting their obligations under law to refund customers for cancelled fares.

Gabor Lukacs, president of advocacy group Air Passenger Rights, who testified at the Parliament meeting this week, said the CTA was acting as a front for the airline industry and that its solicitation for input was not being made in good faith.

“This consultation is a transparent attempt to justify what is already a predetermined outcome,” Lukacs said. “The entire consultation looks like a sham.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published December 11, 2020.

Jon Victor, The Canadian Press

Airlines