CTA opens inquiry into complaints regarding reasons for flight delays or cancellations

February 13, 2020 – Gatineau, QC – Canadian Transportation Agency

The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) today opened an inquiry into complaints from air passengers alleging that airlines are not accurately communicating the reasons for flight delays or cancellations.

On December 15, 2019, the flight delay and cancellation provisions of the Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPR) came into force.

The APPR include a requirement that airlines tell passengers the reason for a flight delay or cancellation. This is important because the reason for a flight disruption affects passenger entitlements:

  • If a flight is delayed or cancelled for reasons fully within the airline's control, passengers have a right to compensation for inconvenience and standards of treatment like food and water.
  • If a flight is delayed or cancelled for reasons within the airline's control but required for safety – such as a mechanical issue that could not have been identified and fixed during regular maintenance – passengers have a right to standards of treatment, but not compensation.
  • If the flight is delayed or cancelled for reasons outside the airline's control – like bad weather – the airline only has to ensure that passengers can complete their journeys.

The CTA has received multiple complaints regarding flights operated since December 15 alleging that airlines have failed to accurately communicate the reasons for delays or cancellations. Looking into these allegations through a single process is the most efficient way of dealing with the issues they raise, and ensuring that the requirements of the regulations are clear for both passengers and airlines.

The CTA's Chief Compliance Officer has been appointed as an inquiry officer for this process. Over the next six weeks, he will collect and analyze evidence, including evidence from airlines on the delays and cancellations that are the subject of the complaints. Decisions on next steps will be made once the inquiry officer's report is submitted.


“Airlines have an obligation, under the Air Passenger Protection Regulations, to provide timely, accurate information to passengers on the reasons for flight delays and cancellations. This inquiry will look into allegations that in some cases, airlines haven't lived up to this obligation. If the evidence shows that happened, we'll take appropriate action. The CTA is committed to ensuring that passengers and airlines understand what the rules are when there's a flight disruption – and that those rules are followed."

- 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 that 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.


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