HALIFAX — Thousands of Canadians have taken part in a letter-writing campaign aimed to amend the government’s proposed transportation bill, which is currently before the Senate.
The grassroots campaign, initiated by Air Passenger Rights, began two weeks ago and has already generated tens of thousands of emails to senators. According to the volunteer advocacy group, Bill C-49 dramatically reduces existing rights for airline passengers in Canada.
“The government portrayed this legislation as an ‘Air Passengers Bill of Rights’,” said Gábor Lukács, founder and coordinator of Air Passenger Rights. “In fact, this bill would remove or reduce many of the rights we currently have while providing no new requirements of airlines or compensation for passengers.”
As stated on Air Passenger Rights’ website, Bill C-49 will double the time passengers may be trapped in an aircraft on the tarmac from 90 minutes to three hours, and relieve airlines from compensating them for flight disruptions due to mechanical failures.
On cancelling the current requirement of airlines to compensate passengers for delays and cancellations due to mechanical failures, Transport Minister Marc Garneau recently stated this change will help make airlines “more competitive”.
However, Lukács noted that in Europe, airlines are required to provide specific compensation for delays and cancellations due to mechanical issues. “And yet, they have a healthy competitive market and profitable airlines. This bill does not just fail to stipulate compensation, it actually makes it worse for passengers than our current system.”
Lukács will be testifying before the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications on March 20.