Consultation on air passenger protection seeks to legitimize clawing back rights

June 3, 2018

C49 consultation animation

The "Have your say: Air passenger protection" consultation may create the illusion that the government is interested in hearing how Canadians would like to be treated by airlines. Make no mistake, the content of the regulations has been decided long ago, after private consultation with those who really matter to the government: the airlines.

The current public consultation is a dog and pony show to create an air of legitimacy for clawing back passenger rights. Yet, it may prove to be a golden opportunity for Canadians to put their protest and rejection of the government’s legislation on public record.

Airlines were privately consulted before Bill C-49 became law

More than one year before the Transportation Modernization Act (Bill C-49) became law, the government had already consulted with the International Air Transportation Association (IATA) about the regulations that would be made. According to an affidavit filed by IATA in the Supreme Court of Canada in June 2017:

The Agency has sought IATA’s input with regard to the regulations it will draft. IATA is actively participating in the consultation process with Transport Canada and the Agency on this topic.

IATA is an international trade association of the airline industry, representing and lobbying for the interests of the airlines. The "Agency refers to the Canadian Transportation Agency, whose mandate is to make the regulations. The consultations with IATA took place in private, to the exclusion of the public.

Clawing back passenger rights: Tarmac delay and maintenance issues

The Transportation Modernization Act seeks to actually roll back many of the protections that Canadians currently enjoy when travelling by air and provides no new accountability for airlines.

Perhaps the most troubling aspect of the government’s legislation is the doubling of the time airlines can keep passengers confined to an aircraft on the tarmac from 90 minutes to three hours. In March 2018, the Senate sided with Canadian travellers, and voted to limit the time that passengers can be stranded on the tarmac to 90 minutes; the government, however, chose to go against the Senate and the Canadian public.

Another troubling component of the government’s legislation is relieving airlines from the requirement to compensate passengers for flight delays and cancellations caused by the airlines’ own maintenance issues. Transport Minister Marc Garneau recently stated that this change is to help make the airlines "more competitive." For comparison, in the Europe Union and Economic Area (EU/EEA), airlines are required to provide specific compensation in such circumstances.

Conclusion: Put your protest on the public record

We urge Canadians to use this illegitimate consultation as an opportunity to put their protest and rejection of the government’s legislation on public record; it takes only a few seconds using the links and short statements below.

  • Tarmac Delays: "I consider the Transportation Modernization Act illegitimate, because passengers should not be confined to an aircraft on the tarmac for more than 90 minutes."
  • Flight Delay and Cancellation: "I consider the Transportation Modernization Act illegitimate, because airlines should be required to compensate passengers for delays and cancellations caused by the airlines’ own maintenance issues."