But Critics Say It Doesn't Go Far Enough
Canada's national government has responded to calls for an
airline passengers bill of rights by announcing a program it calls
"Flight Rights Canada." But political opponents say the program
does nothing to further protect the flying public.
The Toronto Star reports the proposal, introduced September 5,
merely requires putting existing industry requirements in "plain
language," and posting "prominent signage" at key airports.
Canada's federal transport minister, Lawrence Cannon, says the
program builds on a 2007 amendment to the Canada Transportation Act
that requires domestic airlines to prominently display terms and
conditions of carriage at their business offices and on their
websites. The measure also creates an informal complaints process
within the Canadian Transportation Agency.
"Through Flight Rights Canada, air travellers will be reassured
that options are available to them if they are inconvenienced.
Consumer protection is important to our government and that’s
why we are taking further action," said Cannon. "The introduction
of Flight Rights Canada will help make sure that air travellers
know their rights as consumers, and that obligations of air
carriers are reflected in how they provide services."
However, several politicians have called for a more
comprehensive passenger "bill of rights." New Democratic Party
transport critic Brian Masse was especially blunt. "Today's
announcement is not even an announcement," he said. "There's
nothing in this whatsoever."
Masse wants, among other things, an expedited complaint
resolution process for air travellers, reform in how airlines
advertise fares, and 150 percent reimbursement for passengers
delayed more than 12 hours because of overbooking.
The increased focus on the issue follows the sudden shutdown and
bankruptcy filing of Ottawa's Zoom Airlines.
As ANN reported, that low-cost airline
abruptly halted operations August 27, after several of its planes
were grounded at airports for failure to pay landing fees.
The legislative battle is playing out against Conservative Party
Prime Minister Stephen Harper's request to dissolve parliament, and
hold new government elections October 14.