In order to allow airlines to "focus on their immediate and urgent operational requirements," the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) is suspending the processing of passenger complaints through June 30th.
“Any airline complaints received will be dealt with in a timely manner. the CTA will determine, no later than June 30th, 2020, whether the suspension must end on this date or whether it should be extended until a later date,” said the CTA on its website.
For some, this is a new right granted to air carriers by the CTA in the exceptional context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In mid-March, the CTA temporarily relaxed its Travellers Charter to give carriers "the flexibility necessary to adjust their schedules in the face of a rapid drop in the number of passengers in an evolving context quickly."
Several observers also interpret the CTA's position as a favour to air carriers, granting vouchers or credits for future flights, in place of reimbursements, in the current context. Some noted that this position appeared to contradict previous decisions of the CTA.
On February 13th, the CTA opened an investigation into 567 complaints for flights operated by Air Canada, WestJet, Sunwing, Air Transat, Swoop and United Airlines.
These 567 complaints represented only a fraction of the 3,037 complaints concerning flights operated between Dec. 15th, 2019 - the date that the stipulations of the Travellers Charter came into effect- and Feb. 13th, 2020 - the date of initiation of the CTA investigation.
The complainants were air passengers claiming that the airlines did not communicate precisely the reasons for the flight delays or cancellations.
In its Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page on its investigation, the CTA noted that it would still accept complaints raising questions related to this investigation.
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