Wednesday, 22JUN, Canada's Minister of Transport, Omar Alghabra, announced new regulations by the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) to "ensure Canadians' interests are protected when they travel by air."
"As the Canadian aviation industry continues to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, and more and more Canadians are choosing to travel by air, it's especially important that travellers are treated with fairness and respect. I am pleased to see that the Canadian Transportation Agency's new Regulations Amending the Air Passenger Protection Regulations are now finalized," the minister's statement said.
"These regulations require that refunds be provided for cancelled flights or lengthy delays in all types of situations outside an air carrier's control and regardless of the type of ticket that was purchased. They will come into force on September 8, 2022.
"The new regulations, which amend Canada's existing Air Passenger Protection Regulations, will apply to future flights that are cancelled for reasons outside an air carrier's control, including major weather events, a pandemic, as well as situations where it is not possible for the carrier to complete the passenger's itinerary within a reasonable timeframe.
"These new requirements provide clarity around timing, cost coverage, method of payment, and deadlines to refund travellers in such situations. They were developed in a manner that is fair and reasonable to passengers, with the goal of not imposing an undue financial burden on air carriers that could result in higher travel costs.
"Whether due to a large-scale cancellation or a small incident, we know that sometimes travel doesn't go according to plan. These new regulations will protect travellers in these unexpected situations. Our government will continue to protect the interests of passengers."
Until now, the Air Passenger Protection Regulations required refunds to be provided for flight disruptions within the control of airlines.
The new requirements will require airlines to provide passengers with either a refund or rebooking, at the passenger's choice, when there is a flight cancellation, or a lengthy delay, due to a situation outside the airline's control that prevents it from ensuring that passengers complete their itinerary within a reasonable time.
They will apply to all flights to, from and within Canada, including connecting flights, taking place after the coming into force of the regulations.
The new regulatory requirements:
- Require airlines to provide a passenger affected by a cancellation or a lengthy delay due to a situation outside the airline's control with a confirmed reservation on the next available flight that is operated by them or a partner airline, leaving within 48 hours of the departure time indicated on the passenger's original ticket. If the airline cannot provide a confirmed reservation within this 48-hour period, it will be required to provide, at the passenger's choice, a refund or rebooking;
- Identify what costs must be refunded (unused portion of the ticket, which includes any unused add-on services paid for);
- Identify the method to be used for refunds (same as the original payment, e.g., a return on the person's credit card);
- Require airlines to provide a refund within 30 days.