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Sunday,  May 26, 2024 5:36 PM 

Air passenger complaints hit new high, topping 57,000

  • Air
  •   09-18-2023  11:02 am
  •   Pax Global Media

Air passenger complaints hit new high, topping 57,000
Toronto Pearson airport in August 2022. (File photo/Pax Global Media)
Pax Global Media

It's been three and a half years since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and air passenger complaints to the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) have reached more than 57,000, the Canadian Press reported on Monday (Sept. 18).

The new data reveals that the CTA, on average, has faced more than 3,000 complaints per month over the past year, with the current amount coming in at more than three times the total recorded in September last year.

The news raises questions about the effectiveness of the $75.9 million in additional funding Ottawa announced in April to ensure the CTA was equipped with the right resources to address complaints.

The high number of flight disruptions that have occurred this year, including the travel chaos that took place over the holidays, has resulted in a “record-number of complaints” to the CTA, then-Transport Minister Omar Alghabra told reporters last April when the backlog sat at 42,000 files. 

READ MORE: Ottawa announces $75.9M to tackle air passenger complaints backlog, pledges to close “loophole”

The nearly $76 million in funding, set to be delivered over three years, is to go towards hiring roughly 200 more employees at the CTA, which Alghabra said would “significantly” increase the agency’s complaint processing power. 

Happening in the background, meanwhile, is an overhaul of Canada’s Air Passenger Protection Regulations, which includes beefed-up measures that aim to tighten “loopholes” to traveller compensation and lead to harsher penalties.

Ottawa streamlined the rules in June and, as of Sept. 30, passengers will be entitled to compensation when a flight is disrupted, unless the airline can show “exceptional circumstances.”

They are also eligible for refunds, food or hotel stays, depending on the situation.

The current air passenger rights system was first introduced in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The regulations were amended last October as officials tried to close a loophole that left some passengers unable to get refunds during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic when thousands of flights were cancelled.

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