NEW AIR PASSENGER RULES MUST REFLECT ATLANTIC CANADA REALITIES WARNS NATIONAL AIRLINES COUNCIL
Ottawa, June 28, 2018 —As the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) prepares to touch down in Halifax for its only in-person consultation on air passenger rights in Atlantic Canada, the National Airlines Council of Canada (NACC) warns that the CTA and federal government need to consider how these rules could affect Atlantic Canadian communities and air travellers.
“All Canadians have a stake in getting these regulations right,” says Massimo Bergamini, President and CEO of NACC. “But for residents of Atlantic Canada or remote and northern communities, the unintended consequences of air travel rules that fail to reflect the geographical diversity of our country or hit the wrong target could be much more acute.”
“Flight delays and cancellations stem from a multitude of factors such as weather, most often outside of an air carrier’s control.”
“Developing a punitive system to enforce cookie cutter regulations will fail to deliver the travel experience Canadian air passengers want, and may actually hurt those that live in remote, northern and Atlantic Canada communities.”
U.S. regulations imposing harsh fines on airlines for tarmac delays have increased flight cancellations and increased in-transit time for passengers. Such an outcome in Canada would be particularly challenging for those living in smaller communities, in areas subject to more extreme weather.
Bergamini says that flexibility should be built into the new rules to recognize that the airline operating environment is fluid.
“For example, in the case of tarmac delays due to weather, flight crews should be able to work with air traffic control, consider changing conditions and have the discretion to wait for a little longer for an opportunity to get their passengers to destination instead of returning to the gate and causing longer delays.”
“This is particularly important in Canada where extreme weather and inadequate runway lighting in remote communities, the North, and Atlantic Canada create unique and rapidly-changing conditions.”
“It’s like an ecosystem,” says Bergamini. “Thousands of people in many organizations—including airlines, airports, air traffic control, and government agencies responsible for border control, security, customs and immigration—contribute to the success of every flight.
“You can’t fix system problems by tinkering with just one part of it. Developing policies without considering their impact on the entire system risks creating new problems, adding costs or reducing services for passengers,” said Bergamini.
To provide additional context for discussions about passenger rights, NACC is promoting an educational video that explains the aviation ecosystem.
“Our message to Canadians is this,” says Bergamini. “NACC’s member airlines want to make passenger air travel better for everyone, but no one will benefit from an approach that creates unintended consequences that hurt the people they were intended to help. The more people know about this issue, the better the aviation ecosystem will work.”
The Aviation Ecosystem video may be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aH4CKhufHk8&.