Wednesday, January 20, 2021
ADVT 
National

Airline complaints won't be processed until 2021

Darpan News Desk The Canadian Press, 01 Dec, 2020
  • Airline complaints won't be processed until 2021

The head of Canada's transport regulator says the 11,000 complaints filed to the Canadian Transportation Agency since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic will not start to be processed until early next year.

CTA chairman Scott Streiner says the agency is struggling to handle another 11,000 complaints it received between last December and March, immediately after a new passenger rights charter came into effect.

The majority of complaints since March concern refunds, which most Canadian airlines have refused to give customers after cancelling hundreds of thousands of flights due to pandemic travel restrictions, opting instead for flight vouchers or credit.

The 22,000 complaints racked up in less than a year contrast with the 800 submitted to the CTA in 2015 amid growing passenger frustration.

Streiner says that if legislation did not constrain him he would act "quickly" to fix a gap in regulations, which he claims compel airlines only to address reimbursement in their passenger contracts but not to provide it in situations outside their control.

Earlier this month, Transport Minister Marc Garneau announced he planned to negotiate an aid package for struggling airlines that would be conditional on them agreeing to offer refunds for cancelled trips.

The number of complaints may drop considerably if the support plan can be hammered out, Streiner told the House of Commons transport committee Tuesday.

Bloc Québécois transport critic Xavier Barsalou-Duval said the complaints delay remains a major problem.

“If I was a manager of a complaints department and I had two years of backlog ... wouldn’t I lose my job?" he asked Streiner.

Streiner said more than half of the 11,000 complaints filed between last December and March have now been dealt with.

Federal rules, provincial contract law and tribunal precedent at the CTA oblige airlines to reimburse passengers for services paid for but never rendered, say consumer rights advocates and opposition lawmakers.

“We’re being told by the government that these Canadian citizens who purchased these airfares are not able to get a refund because the government is concerned that the airline corporations are going to go bankrupt. Now you’re putting citizens in a situation where they’re essentially involuntary or unwilling creditors to these huge corporations," NDP MP Taylor Bachrach said.

"The legislation constrained us. There was no way that we could establish that obligation in the regulations," Streiner replied.

Committee members pushed him on how big a role Transport Canada had in the CTA's statement on vouchers from March, which said airlines did not need to provide refunds unless their passenger contract required it in particular circumstances.

“There was certain communication in order to make sure that we were not creating any confusion," Streiner said.

“We communicated with the office of the minister of transportation throughout this entire crisis."

MORE National ARTICLES

Change made to insurance for B.C. condo owners

Change made to insurance for B.C. condo owners

Earlier this year, the B.C. Financial Services Authority said premiums have gone up by 40 per cent on average for a number of reasons.

Change made to insurance for B.C. condo owners

Charges approved in two random Downtown Vancouver attacks

Charges approved in two random Downtown Vancouver attacks

In the first incident, the female victim was walking to a bus stop near West Georgia and Gilford streets on November 30 at 6:30 a.m. when a man allegedly approached her and sexually assaulted her.

Charges approved in two random Downtown Vancouver attacks

Economic statement headed to confidence vote: PM

Economic statement headed to confidence vote: PM

Speaking outside his Ottawa residence today, Trudeau says a vote on the fall economic statement will be one that will test the confidence the House of Commons has in his government.

Economic statement headed to confidence vote: PM

U.S. stays mum on Canada's prescription pushback

U.S. stays mum on Canada's prescription pushback

Health Minister Patty Hajdu has prohibited the export of certain drugs if such sales would create or worsen a domestic supply shortage.

U.S. stays mum on Canada's prescription pushback

StatCan: Economy posts record growth in Q3

StatCan: Economy posts record growth in Q3

The previous record for quarterly growth in real gross domestic product was 13.2 per cent in the first quarter 1965, the agency says.

StatCan: Economy posts record growth in Q3

Tories push for committee to dive into vaccines

Tories push for committee to dive into vaccines

The government announced the $44-million project in May as part of a partnership between the NRC and a Chinese company to develop a made-in-Canada vaccine.

Tories push for committee to dive into vaccines

PrevNext