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Sunday,  May 19, 2024 10:45 AM 

CTA slaps penalties on WestJet & Sunwing for APPR violations

  • Air
  •   02-16-2023  5:01 am
  •   Pax Global Media

CTA slaps penalties on WestJet & Sunwing for APPR violations
(File photos)
Pax Global Media

This story was updated on Wednesday, February 15 at 4:32 p.m. EST

The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) has issued administrative monetary penalties (AMPs) against WestJet and Sunwing.  

According to a Feb. 13. public notice posted to the CTA’s website, the penalties are related to flight disruptions that occurred during the summer of 2022 – a turbulent period for air travel as the sector grappled with operational problems amid a spike in passenger demand.

Enforcement officers with the CTA found that WestJet failed to provide passengers compensation they were entitled within 30 days, as laid out in Canada’s Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPR). 

The agency has slapped a penalty on WestJet, totalling $112,800.

The CTA's penalty against Sunwing, meanwhile, totals $126,000. 

The fine is related to flight disruptions that occurred over the holiday period in December 2022, during which CTA officers found that Sunwing failed to comply with section 13 of the APPR (which require airlines to provide information to passengers when a delay or cancellation occurs).

Since the coming into force of the APPR in 2019, the CTA has issued 81 cautionary notices, and 33 notices of violation with administrative monetary penalties, totalling $383,580 relating to the APPR, the CTA says. 

Over the last year, since January 2022, and including this recent notices of violations, the CTA says it has issued 20 violations with AMPs which total $297,630 to 13 different carriers relating to the APPR, the CTA says.

Ottawa vows to strengthen rules

Transport Minister Omar Alghabra has vowed several times to strengthen air passenger protection regulations so complaints against airlines are settled before they reach the heavily-backlogged CTA.

In November 2022, the Minister said the Canadian government was working on enhancing its air passenger bill of rights after a turbulent summer of air travel inefficiencies.

Transport Minister Omar Alghabra. (File photo)

That same month, Alghabra met with the aviation sector at a summit, where issues facing air transportation, along with possible solutions for improving the passenger experience, were discussed ahead of the busy winter travel season.

But whatever optimism sprung from that meeting was crushed over the holidays as airports and airlines, once again, struggled with operational issues after a winter storm slammed into both Vancouver and Toronto in the days leading up to Christmas.

The weather event crippled flight schedules nationwide, delaying flights by hours – even days, in some cases – and left some passengers stranded in destinations in Mexico and the Caribbean.

Alghabra has since reiterated his intention to beef up passenger protections, although he hasn’t shared any specifics about what the new measures would look like.

But he has suggested that he would like to see more responsibility placed on airlines to compensate passengers before complaints are filed.

The CTA, three weeks ago, was dealing with a backlog of more than 30,000 complaints from passengers who believe they weren't properly compensated for disrupted air travel.

Meanwhile, experts are calling on the CTA to be more aggressive with fines when airlines run afoul of the regulations.

The CTA has the ability to fine airlines up to $25,000 if they don't comply with APPR rules.

The rules require an airline to compensate passengers for lost luggage or flight delays and cancellations that are within the airline's control.

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