June 3, 2023 8:41 PM

The Canadian government plans to let airlines pay for delayed flights

The Canadian government made a distinct point to airlines to treat passengers during flight delays which include monetary compensation.

/ Published 4 years ago

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In a stunning move, the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) reported recently that it has ordered airlines to pay consumers when flights are delayed. Set up as an independent quasi-judicial tribunal regulator, it evaluates air, marine, and rail transportation modes and functions under the Canadian Transportation Act. CTA also keeps statistics on airlines as far as resolving issues and complaints.


As of 2017 to 2018, the top three complaints against all carriers list like the following: Flight disruptions (delays), Baggage issues, and Issues outside the Agency jurisdiction. For a full list of issues click here.

For flight disruptions, the following airlines have the most delays: Air Canada (1405 flight delays), Air Transat (283 flight delays), and WestJet (128 flight delays).

To put the information in context, Air Canada (OTCMKTS: ACDVF) lists as the major international and domestic airline serving six continents and 200 airports. In recent years it has served over 45 million passengers. As part of the Star Alliance, its network has much influence so it naturally would have more complaints and delays due to doing more flights.

Air Transat (TSE: TRZ) classifies as Canada’s leader in holiday flights. It caters to 3 million consumers from Skytrax 60 destinations in about 30 countries. It functions as a business unit for Transat A.T. Inc. and has won awards from Skytrax in its World Airline Awards events.

WestJet (OTCMKTS: WJAFF), on the other hand, serves 12,000 passengers to around 100 destinations. It has a reputation for customer service and is also known as a good place to work. It has an environmentally sustainable component in its values statements, which allow them to develop into a socially responsible business venture.

By percent of delays (comparing the number of passengers), Air Canada had 1405 delays with 45,000,000 passengers for a percent rate of .0031 percent in a year. Air Transat had 3,000,000 passengers wherein 283 became delayed for a percent rate of .0094 percent rate in a year. WestJet had 128 delays with 12000 passengers, making a percent rate annually of 1.06 percent.

The Canadian Transportation Agency will not break the airline’s profit by making them pay passengers when flights are delayed. Delays do not often happen but when it does, airlines are known for doing a poor job in handling it.


CTA chose a monetary penalty system to enforce on airlines when they cause flight delays. (Photo by KMR Photography via Flickr. CC BY 2.0)

The CTA told the airlines to pay cash for any delays of over three hours. Then the airline has to book the customer on a competing company flight. The ruling comes as part of a package of bill of rights for air passengers and enforcement of the new rules will happen in 2019. The government has repeatedly reprimanded and warned airlines plus gave recommendations about leaving consumers on tarmacs and stranded in airports due to overbooking. The Canadian government has scheduled full implementation for the summer of 2019.


Passengers, whether on Canadian or from other national airlines, will no longer charge parents extra fees for requesting to sit next to their children. Cash compensation of $400 goes to a passenger when the delay reaches three hours. At six hours, the compensation increases to $700 and then at the nine hours mark, it goes up to $1000 level. For smaller airlines, the fines will become adjusted to accommodate their profit margins. At nine hours of delay, airlines will also rebook the flight on a competitor airline.

If planes have a two-hour delay then the airline will have to provide food services and drink services. Electronic communication will become free including Wi-fi. Delays will be classified as airline fault or other circumstances such as weather. So, if the airline becomes deemed responsible as defined by the CTA, it will have to make payments.

Other Issues

Planes must have good maintenance to stay in flight. Other agency advocates for passengers have insisted on conducting audits on airlines especially with maintenance issues. The government will create definitions of what a mechanical issue is and what an overbooking issue is.

Airlines have refused to let passengers off planes after extensive delays, even when panes have run out of fuel on the tarmac and runways. Some airlines have ordered the air conditioner turned off for hours forcing passengers to endure the heat. Fines as high as $295,000 have been assessed for such airline behavior but it has not changed their antics in doing so.


Though the delays in airline flights remain low, when it does happen, the airlines have been remiss in customer service when it comes to passengers just trying to get to a destination. Several incidents have resulted in sick passengers that included children who vomited and some adults needing to call 911 due to their medical conditions. Whether or not a company has social responsibility depends not on what it does during its good times but what it does during an issue. The government should not have to step in for passengers to receive a refund on a delayed flight.

Though the industry has ups and downs in 2018, Canadian air transport grew by 4.9 percent in 2018 plus a pre-tax profit of $1.3 billion in the same year.

(Featured photo by BriYYZ via Wikimedia. CC By SA-By 2.0)

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