Tarmac Delays: Ministerial Decision is a Step in the Right Direction

Provided by Air Passenger Rights

Halifax, NS (May 21, 2019) – Air Passenger Rights (APR), Canada’s nonprofit advocacy group for air traveller rights, welcomes the direction issued by Transport Minister Marc Garneau to create regulations about the rights of passengers in the case of tarmac delays of less than 3 hours. The ministerial direction comes in the wake of public protest about the government’s proposed Air Passenger Protection Regulations.

In December 2018, the government announced its proposed air travel rules, which would allow airlines to keep passengers on an aircraft for more than 3 hours. This would be more than double the 90 minutes recommended by the Senate in March 2018.

In February 2019, APR published a 52-page report, identifying six other key areas where the proposed rules are fundamentally flawed.

  • No Denied Boarding Compensation: “Denied boarding” is defined so narrowly that most cases do not meet the criteria.
  • No Monetary Compensation for Flight Delays and Cancellations: The criteria for monetary compensation are impossible to meet, requiring passengers to present evidence that is in the airlines’ exclusive control.
  • No Automatic Compensation: Passengers will have to complain to the airlines within 120 days, or else they lose their rights.
  • No Meals or Hotel: Airlines will not have to provide meals and overnight accomodation in most cases of flight delays and cancellations.
  • Passengers on “Small” Carriers Have Less Rights: Passengers booked on “small” carriers, such as Flair or Swoop, will have even fewer rights.
  • Numerous Important Issues are not Addressed: Right to a refund of the unused portion of the ticket in cases “outside the carrier’s control” and “flight advancement” are not covered.

APR’s criticism came on the heels of a wave of public protest. More than 8,000 emails, demanding legislation that truly protects consumers, were sent in response to the government’s call for public input.

“The Minister’s decision is a step in the right direction,” said Dr. Gábor Lukács, APR’s founder and coordinator. “We are pleased that the Transport Minister has recognized that Canadians should not be kept on the tarmac for 3 hours or more. This is what we and the Senate have been saying all along.”

APR urges the government to implement all of APR’s 24 amendments to make the proposed rules more balanced, and fair to passengers.

APR’s complete report, entitled “Deficiencies of the Proposed Air Passenger Protection Regulations,” is available online.