Inquiry into complaints regarding reasons for flight delays or cancellations


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

The inquiry focused on 567 complaints involving flights operated by Air Canada, WestJet, Sunwing, Air Transat, Swoop and United Airlines.

Looking into these allegations through a single process was the most efficient way of dealing with the issues they raise – and ensuring that the requirements of the Air Passenger Protection Regulations are clear for both passengers and airlines.

The CTA's Chief Compliance Officer was appointed as an Inquiry Officer for this process. In this role, he collected and analyzed evidence on the delays and cancellations that are the subject of the complaints. His report was provided to the Panel assigned to adjudicate this case and has now been made public.

Once the fact-gathering stage completed, the CTA embarked on the next stage of the proceeding - adjudication.

The CTA opened pleadings on various questions of interpretation with respect to the APPR. Interested parties were invited to file position statements with respect to these questions.

The CTA has now rendered its decision

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Why did the CTA open this inquiry?

The CTA received 3,037 complaints regarding flights operated between December 15, 2019 – the date on which the full APPR came into force – and February 13, 2020 – the date on which the CTA opened its inquiry – alleging that airlines failed to accurately communicate the reasons for delays or cancellations.

The inquiry focused on 567 complaints involving flights operated by Air Canada, WestJet, Sunwing, Air Transat, Swoop and United Airlines.

Q2. What is the result of the CTA’s Decision No.122-C-A-2021 issued November 17, 2021?

The CTA has directed the parties to attempt to resolve their disputes informally with the benefit of the interpretations provided in its decision.

Each airline will have to reconsider the requests related to the inquiry for compensation for inconvenience by taking into account the interpretations provided by the CTA’s decision. Should compensation be rejected, airlines are required to provide the explanation required under subsection 19(4) of the APPR.

More detailed information related to these interpretations can be consulted in the following guides:

Q3. What happens if I am not able to reach an agreement on compensation with the airline, or if the airline doesn’t respond?

Airlines are expected to respond to applicants in a timely manner. If any issues within the CTA’s jurisdiction remain unresolved, a complainant can follow up with the CTA by February 15, 2022.

At that time, the CTA may attempt to resolve the issues through facilitation and/or mediation. If an issue remains unresolved after attempts at informal resolution, applicants may request that the CTA proceed with adjudication of the remaining matters.


Submission language and accessibility

For accessibility purposes, the CTA has converted all documents to PDF. All documents are made available in the official language in which they were received.

Respondents' submissions

Sunwing (PDF ; 170 kb)
Air Canada (PDF ; 309 kb)
Westjet (PDF ; 344 kb)
Swoop (PDF ; 165 kb)
Swoop - Schedule "A" (PDF ; 175 kb)

Position Statements from interested persons

Airlines for America and the National Airlines Council of Canada (PDF ; 199 kb)
Air Help (PDF ; 551 kb)
Air Passenger Rights (PDF ; 704 kb)
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