Canadian Transportation Agency launches inquiry into Air Transat tarmac delays

August 2, 2017 – Gatineau, QC – Canadian Transportation Agency

The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) today ordered Air Transat to explain the circumstances surrounding a delay of two of the airline's flights, which spent several hours on the tarmac of the Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport on Monday, July 31, 2017.

The CTA's order questions whether, during the incidents, Air Transat respected its terms and conditions of carriage for international flights (tariff) with respect to the treatment of passengers on the aircraft.

Under the Canada Transportation Act, the CTA has the authority to launch inquiries, on its own motion, related to an airline's international tariff. If it finds that a tariff has not been properly applied, or that the terms and conditions in the tariff are unreasonable, it can order corrective measures.

Complaints filed by individual passengers with the CTA regarding Monday's incidents will be addressed through the inquiry.


"Air travel is an integral part of modern life. Usually, it goes smoothly, but if something goes wrong, passengers have rights. The CTA is committed to ensuring these rights are respected. This inquiry will determine, based on the evidence and the law, whether the treatment of passengers on the two flights was in line with the airline’s obligations -- and if not, what corrective measures should be ordered. We’ll get it done as quickly as possible, but we’ll take the time required to gather all the facts.”

- Scott Streiner, Chair and CEO of the Canadian Transportation Agency

About the CTA

The Canadian Transportation Agency is an independent, quasi-judicial tribunal and regulator with the powers of a superior court. The CTA has three core mandates: keeping the national transportation system running efficiently and smoothly, protecting the human right of persons with disabilities to an accessible transportation network and providing consumer protection for air passengers. To help advance these mandates, the CTA makes ground rules that establish the rights and responsibilities of transportation service providers and users and level the playing field among competitors. It also 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.


Media Relations
Canadian Transportation Agency


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CTA's compliance and enforcement role

Compliance monitoring and enforcement is an important role of the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA). It ensures the transportation system's rules are being followed and creates a level playing field.

The CTA uses its own motion powers when there are grounds to believe an issue may exist to proactively ensure, among other things, that airlines’ terms and conditions of carriage (known as tariffs) for international flights are:

  • in line with all applicable legislation, regulations, international conventions, and CTA decisions;
  •  reasonable and clear;
  •  not unjust or unjustly discriminatory; and,
  •  adhered to by the airlines.

The CTA's enforcement officers have issued 314 warning letters and 84 notices of violation resulting in $700,000 in penalties in the last five years.

CTA air travel complaint role

The CTA provides consumer protection for air travellers. It helps air passengers resolve complaints on issues such as flight disruptions and delays; lost, delayed or damaged baggage; denied boarding; or bumping due to overbooking.

Airlines' policies around delays are listed in their tariffs — the airline's terms and conditions of service. Each carrier's tariff is different, and carriers may establish and apply the provisions they want so long as they meet certain legislative requirements.

When passengers feel their airline has not provided them the remedy outlined in its tariff or wants to challenge an airline’s terms and conditions contained in its tariff as being unclear, unreasonable or discriminatory, they can file a complaint with the CTA.

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