Feds, air­lines bat­tle over pas­sen­ger rights bill

Lethbridge Herald - - HEADLINE NEWS -

Trans­port Min­is­ter Marc Garneau pushed back Thurs­day against sug­ges­tions the Lib­er­als’ pro­posed air pas­sen­ger bill of rights is too heavy-handed with air­lines, say­ing the gov­ern­ment’s in­tent is not to pick on air car­ri­ers.

Garneau told a Com­mons com­mit­tee study­ing the pro­posal that the gov­ern­ment’s goal is to cre­ate reg­u­la­tions that are fair to air­lines and pas­sen­gers to en­sure ev­ery­one knows their rights and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.

The reg­u­la­tions would im­pose what Garneau de­scribed as hefty fines on air­lines in sit­u­a­tions where a pas­sen­ger has been bumped from an over­booked flight, had lug­gage lost or dam­aged, or was stuck on a tar­mac for far too long — but only if these were within the car­rier’s con­trol.

If it is some­thing be­yond the con­trol of the air­line — bad weather, air traf­fic con­trol is­sues, or a se­cu­rity threat at an air­port, for in­stance — then the car­rier wouldn’t be held li­able.

“It is an ob­jec­tive of this to come up with some­thing that clearly ad­dresses pas­sen­ger rights, but that is also fair to the air­lines,” Garneau said. “We’re not here to pick on the air­lines. We’re here to make sure that pas­sen­ger rights are re­spected.

“If it was a de­ci­sion that was within the con­trol of the air­line that pre­vented you from tak­ing that flight, there needs to be com­pen­sa­tion.”

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