Recently proposed air passenger rights regulation in Canada has been identified to have a loophole that could allow airlines to get away without paying compensation and also put the lives of passengers at risk, according to one passenger rights company.
The company published an open letter stating that the newly proposed regulations did not impose any obligations on carriers to pay customers for cancellations and delays if they were caused as the result of technical problems identified on the tarmac.
According to the Chief Legal Officer of the passenger right firm, incentivising carriers to prevent trouble during the pre-flight checks would significantly reduce the chances of an undiscovered problem.
Standing up for travellers
Now, typically speaking, if mechanical malfunctions identified during general maintenance are responsible for causing any subsequent delays, it will make the airline liable for flight delay compensation. But the problem is that aircraft under regular maintenance are non-functional. They are not operational and therefore, not capable of causing delays.
Marc Garneau, the Transport Minister, has stated that airlines will not play around with safety or look for additional ways to avoid paying compensation. The minister used the EU compensation laws as an example since they also follow similar conditions.
However, experts from the other end of the debate, hit out at the minister, claiming that the airline industry had misinformed him. In EU law, a delay of 3 hours or more caused as a result of mechanical malfunction makes the airline liable for compensation. The idea here is to penalise the carrier for not carrying out timely and proper maintenance.
Delphine Denia, a spokeswoman for Garneau, stated that the government was protecting the interests of travellers from the country and ensuring that their rights are not trampled on. She added that clear standards of treatment and compensation for passengers are being established, similar to how it is in the UK.
Other than the Loophole
The new law will also entitle passengers to about $2400 as compensation if they’ve been bumped from a flight or if they’ve had to deal with long delays. The compensation system itself will be based on a sliding scale, making larger carriers pay more. The same will also apply to longer delays.
The compensation for delays stands at $1000, while for cancellations it tops out at $2400.
Apart from providing compensation, the new rules will also require airlines to offer beverages, accommodation, and food.
But passenger rights advocate Gabor Lucas referred to the new regulations as useless. He cited the example of an Air Canada flight to Hawaii that turned back to Vancouver after discovering a maintenance issue mid-flight.
According to Lucas, this would qualify as a cancellation or delay under EU laws, on par with any other form of delay or cancellation. Although, Lucas stated that new laws in Canadian aviation do not allow for compensation in such scenarios. In the EU, such a delay or cancellation would entitle passengers to at least 600 Euros.