Federal govt. looks to further improve passenger rail service in SW Ontario

Broader APPR rules come into effect today; Minister Alghabra issues statement

OTTAWA — Broader rules under the Airlines Passenger Protection Regulations (APPR) come into effect today, Sept. 8, 2022.

As the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) notes, until now, the APPR only required refunds to be provided for flight disruptions within the control of airlines.

The new rules coming into effect today now require airlines to provide passengers with either a refund or rebooking, at the passenger’s choice, when there is a flight cancellation, or a lengthy delay, due to a situation outside the airline’s control that prevents it from ensuring that passengers complete their itinerary within a reasonable time.

The rules apply to all flights to, from and within Canada, including connecting flights.

According to the CTA, the new regulatory requirements …

  • Require airlines to provide a passenger affected by a cancellation or a lengthy delay due to a situation outside the airline’s control with a confirmed reservation on the next available flight that is operated by them or a partner airline, leaving within 48 hours of the departure time indicated on the passenger’s original ticket. If the airline cannot provide a confirmed reservation within this 48-hour period, it is required to provide, at the passenger’s choice, a refund or rebooking;
  • Identify what costs must be refunded (unused portion of the ticket, which includes any unused add-on services paid for);
  • Identify the method to be used for refunds (same as the original payment, e.g., a return on the person’s credit card);
  • Require airlines to provide a refund within 30 days.

As the update from the CTA notes, COVID-19 pandemic revealed a gap in Canada’s air passenger protection framework: the absence of a requirement for airlines to refund tickets when flights are cancelled, or where there is a lengthy delay, for reasons outside airline control and it is not possible for the airline to ensure that the passenger’s itinerary is completed within a reasonable time.

The new regulations apply to flight disruptions that occur as of September 8, 2022.

The CTA is currently dealing with a backlog of thousands of air passenger complaints. Airlines refusing compensation claims on the grounds of crew constraints, i.e. staff shortages, have become a major issue for airlines, passengers and the CTA over the past several months.

STATEMENT FROM TRANSPORT MINISTER ALGHABRA

Minister of Transport Omar Alghabra issued a statement today on the new broader APPR regulations.

“Passengers have rights and they need to be respected. Our government was the one who put in place the Air Passenger Protection Regulations in 2019 to ensure their rights are safeguarded throughout their travel journey,” he said.

“With travel volumes continuing to increase, I am very pleased to see that the Canadian Transportation Agency’s new Regulations Amending the Air Passenger Protection Regulations are now in force.

“Starting today, the new regulations, which amend Canada’s existing Air Passenger Protection Regulations, apply to flights that are cancelled, or where there is a lengthy delay, for reasons outside of an air carrier’s control, including major weather events or a pandemic, where it is not possible for the carrier to complete the passenger’s journey within a reasonable time.

“The COVID-19 pandemic revealed a gap in Canada’s passenger protection framework, with flights delayed or cancelled due to situations outside an airline’s control and where carriers could not rebook passengers within a reasonable time, like a global pandemic. These new regulations will correct this gap.

“These new requirements provide clarity around timing, cost coverage, method of payment, and deadlines to refund travellers in such situations. They were developed in a manner that is fair and reasonable to passengers, with the goal of not imposing an undue financial burden on air carriers that could result in higher travel costs.”

Minister Alghabra added: “With so many Canadians travelling again, it’s critical to ensure their rights are respected. Our government is working with air industry partners to help ease airport congestion to keep travellers moving, and we will continue to protect the interests of passengers when travel doesn’t go according to plan.”