Monday,  January 30, 2023  7:58 pm

Air passenger protections: airlines face $45K in fines for missing signage

Air passenger protections: airlines face $45K in fines for missing signage
Blake Wolfe

Blake Wolfe is an award-winning journalist and editor, who joined PAX after nearly 10 years in Canada’s newspaper industry. In addition to PAX, his work has been featured in publications such as the Metroland Media group of newspapers and the Toronto Sun.

Four of Canada’s largest airlines are facing a combined $45,000 in fines from the Canadian Transportation Agency, which alleges that the airlines failed to properly display information about recently-enacted air passenger protection regulations at airports across the country.

The fines, which were levied against the airlines on Aug. 27, are the first to be handed out since phase one of CTA’s Air Passenger Protection Regulations went into effect on July 15 (phase two will roll out on Dec. 15, 2019), outlining processes and requirements for situations such as passenger compensation in the event of a denied boarding or lost luggage. The new regulations also stipulate that airlines which operate flights to or from Canada must display notices in airports at check-in, self-service kiosks and boarding gates informing passengers of potential compensation in such situations.

READ MORE: Here’s what your clients need to know if they’re denied boarding

The airlines were fined $2,500 for each infraction, with WestJet facing the largest penalty at $17,500, followed by Air Canada at $12,500, along with Air Transat and Porter at $7,500 each.

The airlines respond

Lauren Stewart of WestJet told PAX that, "More than 4,400 WestJetters in all of our airports have been working to successfully implement all aspects of the new APPR regulations, including signage. These requirements came into force on July 15. The challenges WestJet is facing, and currently working through, have been due to very short timelines coupled with the complexity of Canadian airport operations. An example is of this is WestJet’s ability to comply on signage requirements at common-use kiosks and common-use departure gates.

We are working diligently through each individual airport community in order to ensure that WestJet can be compliant in common-use environments and we continue to have a high degree of compliance in dedicated WestJet-areas. WestJet will now undertake further meetings with our airport partners, the CTA and other stakeholders to work towards signage compliance as soon as possible. We remain proud of our exceptional record of guest care and the collaborative approach we have always taken with the CTA."

Odette Trottier, director of communications for Air Transat, told PAX that the airline intends to appeal the fines, stating that, “Air Transat has made every effort to comply with the new regulations. Following an analysis of the case, we are of the opinion that the fine imposed by the CTA is not warranted, and intend to file an appeal with the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada, as provided for by law.”

Air Canada spokeperson Peter Fitzpatrick told PAX that the airline is “reviewing the CTA’s decision,” explaining that “the implementation of APPR has been very complex for airlines … we had to review and adjust more than 400 individual items and procedures across our entire system in order to comply with the requirements of the first phase of the regulations alone.

“With new rules of such complexity, there are always questions of interpretation, so we are reviewing the CTA’s decision,” Fitzpatrick said. “Nonetheless, it is Air Canada’s intention to fully abide by the APPR and we have put in place the necessary policies and procedures to ensure compliance.”

Porter’s Brad Cicero, director of communications and pubic affairs for the Toronto-based airline, said that “we received notice of these fines related to minor communication issues. They were addressed immediately upon receipt. Porter has dedicated significant resources to implementing the regulations on very short notice and we are making every effort to comply with the rules.”

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