Consultation paper on requested temporary adjustments to the Air Passenger Protection Regulations
Table of contents
The International Air Transport Association (IATA), the National Airlines Council of Canada (NACC), Air Canada and Sunwing Airlines (Sunwing) have asked the Canadian Transportation Agency (Agency) to temporarily adjust certain compensation and rebooking requirements under the Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPR), in light of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the airline industry.
The Agency can only make temporary adjustments to these requirements (through an exemption order with conditions) if it believes that following them is unnecessary, undesirable or impractical. We are now providing an opportunity for the public, consumer groups and other air carriers to submit information and comments related to the requested temporary adjustments. The Agency will consider this feedback in making its decision.
Under the APPR, air carriers have minimum obligations to passengers when flights are cancelled or delayed. Those obligations depend on whether the flight disruption was within the carrier’s control, within its control but required for safety, or outside its control.
The Agency has stated that, generally speaking, flight disruptions to or from areas covered by a government travel advisory or restriction due to the pandemic are considered to be outside the air carrier’s control.
However, carriers may make commercial decisions that are influenced by the pandemic, including decisions to cancel and consolidate flights due to low demand or passenger volumes. Flight disruptions stemming from such decisions could be considered within a carrier's control, but the Agency would have to decide this on a case-by-case basis.
Requests for temporary APPR adjustments
The Agency has decided to consider whether temporary adjustments to requirements in sections 17, 18, and 19 of the APPR should be made, after receiving written requests and supporting submissions from IATA, NACC, Air Canada and Sunwing.
Please note that all written requests and supporting submissions are posted in the official language in which they were received.
Air Canada request
- Air Canada request - submitted September 2, 2020 (Format : PDF ; Size : 232 kb)
NACC and IATA request
- NACC and IATA request - submitted September 21, 2020 (Format : PDF ; Size : 424 kb)
- Additional information: 1 - submitted November 23, 2020 (Format : PDF ; Size : 533 kb)
- Additional information: 2 - submitted November 23, 2020 (Format : PDF ; Size : 26 kb)
- Sunwing request - submitted October 22, 2020 (Format : PDF ; Size : 397 kb)
- Revised Sunwing request - submitted November 20, 2020 (Format : PDF ; Size : 400 kb)
Specifically, the Agency is considering whether to make the following temporary adjustments to the APPR:
- Removing the requirement for air carriers, in certain circumstances, to rebook passengers on other air carriers with which they have a commercial agreement;
- Removing the requirement for air carriers, in certain circumstances, to rebook passengers on other air carriers with which they have no commercial agreement;
- Only requiring that air carriers pay compensation for inconvenience under the APPR if:
- they tell passengers of a flight disruption less than 72 hours in advance (instead of 14 days); and
- the passenger experiences a delay of more than 6 hours (instead of 3 hours);
- Giving air carriers until March 31, 2021 to respond to requests for compensation for inconvenience filed between July 1, 2020 and September 29, 2020 (extending the temporary adjustment made in Determination A-2020-122).
Air carrier data
In addition to their written requests, IATA, NACC and Air Canada provided data comparing flight volumes, flight cancellations and passenger ticket cancellations in summer 2019 and summer 2020, which may be relevant to the issues being considered.
A comparison of the data reported for July-September 2020 with the data reported for July-September 2019 suggests the following changes:
- The number of scheduled flights during these months was 6.3% lower in 2020 than in 2019.
- The number of flight cancellations during these months was 3597% higher in 2020 than in 2019.
- The number of flights cancelled on short notice (between 3 and 14 days in advance) during these months was 21.7% higher in 2020 than in 2019.
- 1.2% of the flight cancellations during these months in 2020 were made on short notice, compared with 35.7% in 2019.
- 34.3% of the passengers who flew during these months in 2020 booked their ticket on short notice, compared with 15% in 2019.
- 25% of passengers who booked their ticket at least 14 days in advance during these months in 2020 cancelled on short notice, compared with 3.1% in 2019.
- For every 100 passengers who flew during these months in 2020, there were roughly 176 passengers who cancelled their ticket. For every 100 passengers who flew during these months of 2019, there were roughly 16 passengers who cancelled their ticket.
See Annex A for a summary of the data provided (aggregated from 5 air carriers).
Air carriers have indicated that evolving conditions during the pandemic – including changes in infection rates, border restrictions, and government travel recommendations – have created uncertainty, resulting in lower bookings and high passenger cancellations close to departure. Air carriers have indicated that this unpredictability has made flight consolidation unavoidable, and not a typical business decision.
The Agency can only make the requested temporary adjustments under section 80 of the Canada Transportation Act if it finds that it is unnecessary, undesirable or impractical for air carriers to follow the particular APPR requirements to which temporary adjustments are sought.
The Agency is giving stakeholders and the public an opportunity to review the requests and share their views on whether one or more of these criteria are met. Throughout the process, the Agency will post the submissions it receives on the Agency's website.
The consultation will close on January 29, 2021. The Agency will then consider all the information submitted and make its final determination as soon as possible. That determination will be published on the Agency website.
What kind of information is needed?
You are invited to submit comments on the requested temporary adjustments and in particular, taking into account the criteria in section 80 of the Canada Transportation Act, comments on whether, during the pandemic:
- air carriers should be required to follow APPR requirements to rebook passengers on other air carriers;
- air carriers should have to pay compensation for inconvenience under more limited circumstances, for example:
- only if they told passengers about the disruption less than 3 days in advance (instead of 14 days); and
- only if the passenger’s delay was 6 or more hours (instead of 3 or more hours); and
- air carriers should be given more time to respond to requests for compensation filed between July 1, 2020 and September 29, 2020.
We would also like your views on how long any temporary adjustments should be in place, if the Agency decides to make temporary adjustments to any of these provisions.
We encourage anyone making submissions to support their arguments with any relevant factual information available to them. For example, air carrier data on flight cancellations and their causes during the pandemic may be relevant to the issues being considered.
Please send all written submissions to us at Consultations-aeriennes.Air-Consultations@otc-cta.gc.ca by January 29, 2021.
Please note that all submissions will be posted on the Agency's website in the official language in which they were received, along with the name of the individual or organization that submitted them.
With that in mind, we recommend that you take the following steps:
- Remove from your submission any irrelevant personal or confidential information that should not be made public before you send it to the Agency.
- If your submission contains information that you believe should be treated as confidential, be sure to provide us with two versions of your submission:
- 1 full submission containing the confidential information; and
- 1 public version with the confidential information blacked out.
The information contained in the full version of a submission will only be released to the extent required under the Access to Information Act, after the exceptions outlined in that legislation have been applied.
If you have any questions about the requests for temporary adjustments to the APPR, the Agency’s decision-making process, or the consultation, please contact Consultations-aeriennes.Air-Consultations@otc-cta.gc.ca
Annex A: Summary of Air Carrier Data (Data aggregated from 5 air carriers)
|Flights cancelled 3-14 days in advance||630||754||442||1,826||795||742||686||2,223|
|Flights with same flight number cancelled on multiple occasions (total # of cancellations)||1,300||1,087||1,068||3,455||47,766||46,961||42,631||137,358|
|Passengers who cancelled their tickets||1,417,505||1,389,141||1,177,319||3,983,965||2,050,263||1,735,687||1,194,001||4,979,951|
|Passengers who cancelled 3-14 days in advance||202,807||210,492||222,644||635,943||214,835||168,189||111,948||494,972|
|Passengers who booked 3-14 days in advance||1,201,931||1,213,721||1,236,142||3,651,794||319,342||349,744||299,929||969,015|
|Passengers who booked at least 14 days in advance 1||7,053,900||7,274,043||5,880,191||20,208,134||554,116||766,810||614,896||1,935,822|
|Passengers who booked ticket 3-14 days in advance as a % of the total number of transported passengers||14.3%||14.0%||17.1%||15%||38.3%||32.3%||33.1%||34.3%|
|Passengers who cancelled 3-14 days in advance as a % of the passengers who booked at least 14 days in advance 1||2.8%||2.8%||3.7%||3.1%||37.9%||21.4%||17.8%||25.0%|
Annex B: Examples of air carrier data that may be relevant to the issues being considered
- The number of scheduled flights, per month, from July to September (in 2019 and 2020).
- How many of these were cancelled?
- How many of these were cancelled between 3 and 14 days before the flight?
- The number of transported passengers, per month, from July to September (in 2019 and 2020).
- The number of passengers, per month, who cancelled their tickets between July and September (in 2019 and 2020).
- How many of these passengers cancelled their tickets between 3 and 14 days before their flight?
- The number of passengers, per month, between July and September (in 2019 and 2020) who booked a ticket between 3 and 14 days before the flight.
Flight cancellations due to low demand and due to passenger cancellations
- The number of flights, per month, that were cancelled from July to September (in 2019 and 2020) due to a low load factor.
- How many of these were caused by passenger ticket cancellations made between 3 and 14 days before the flight?
- How many flights with the same flight number were cancelled on multiple occasions due to a low load factor between July and September (in 2019 and 2020)?
This question assumes that flights with the same flight number have the same origin, destination and flight time, but on different days.