Canadian Transportation Agency issues determination in Air Transat inquiry – Air carrier to pay $295,000 penalty for delay of flights 157 and 507
November 30, 2017 – Gatineau, QC – Canadian Transportation Agency
The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) today issued its determination in the matter of the tarmac delays of Air Transat Flight Nos. 157 and 507, which occurred in Ottawa on July 31, 2017.
In its determination, the CTA found that during the tarmac delays, Air Transat did not properly apply its own tariff rules (terms and conditions of carriage) related passenger disembarkment – because aircraft commanders did not consider the option to disembark passengers when the delay exceeded 90 minutes – and to the distribution of drinks and snacks.
The CTA also found that the air carrier was not relieved of its obligations to passengers simply because events beyond its control required diversion of the flights to Ottawa or because the actions of other parties contributed to the length of the delays.
Finally, the CTA found that it was unreasonable for the tariff's Force Majeure rule to be as broadly worded as it was, and for pilots to have such wide discretion to decide whether or not to allow passengers to disembark, no matter how lengthy the tarmac delay.
Based on these findings, the CTA has ordered Air Transat to:
- compensate all passengers of the two flights for out-of-pocket expenses incurred as a result of the carrier's failure to apply its tariff.
- ensure that its employees are properly trained on tariff provisions, policies, and procedures related to tarmac delays, and that employees understand these are legal obligations the air carrier is bound to respect.
- amend its international tariffs to incorporate the terms and conditions of its Contingency Plan for Lengthy Tarmac Delays at US Airports, which create a positive obligation for the air carrier to deplane passengers if a tarmac delay reaches four hours – unless there are safety, security, or air traffic control issues that prevent it– and require that during the delay, the air carrier provide passengers with updates every 30 minutes, working lavatories, and needed medical assistance.
- tighten the definition of Force Majeure in its tariffs.
Following this determination, a CTA Designated Enforcement Officer issued a penalty of $295,000 against the air carrier. Air Transat has been advised that the penalty may be reduced by the amount of compensation provided to passengers on the affected flights, excluding the refund of out of pocket expenses.
"This is a significant determination for air passengers and air carriers. It underscores that passengers have rights and recourse when their air travel is disrupted, and that even when problems stem from events such as bad weather, there is a minimum standard of treatment to which all passengers are entitled."
– Scott Streiner, Chair and CEO of the Canadian Transportation Agency
More information on the inquiry and the resulting determination can be found in the Backgrounder.
About the CTA
The Canadian Transportation Agency is an independent, quasi-judicial tribunal and regulator which has, with respect to all matters necessary for the exercise of its jurisdiction, all the powers of a superior court. The CTA has three core mandates: helping to keep the national transportation system running efficiently and smoothly, protecting the fundamental right of persons with disabilities to accessible transportation services, and providing consumer protection for air passengers. To help advance these mandates, the CTA makes and enforces ground rules that establish the rights and responsibilities of transportation service providers and users and level the playing field among competitors, resolves disputes using a range of tools from facilitation and mediation to arbitration and adjudication, and ensures that transportation providers and users are aware of their rights and responsibilities and how the CTA can help them.
Canadian Transportation Agency