Canada

Transport minister acknowledges ‘unacceptable’ summer travel issues, says plan is to strengthen passenger bill of rights


Canada’s transport minister says the federal government and the country’s aviation sector are working on strengthening the passenger bill of rights following a summer plagued by delayed and cancelled flights.


While answering reporters’ questions during a news conference at the Ottawa International Airport on Monday, Omar Alghabra acknowledged the “unacceptable” issues air travellers faced this year, from delayed and cancelled flights to lost luggage.


The comments came after the minister convened a summit last week with the air travel industry to discuss outstanding issues facing the sector ahead of the holidays.


Speaking on Monday, Alghabra said topics discussed included how to modernize the security screening process, ways that airports could generate additional revenue to ensure greater financial flexibility and lessons learned to reform the passenger bill of rights, including standards for the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority and other government agencies.


“Those are the type of things we’re looking at because it’s really important that we keep in mind the focus of the passenger experience. That’s ultimately what we’re all trying to do,” Alghabra said.


The federal government has pointed to a surge in demand for air travel — as much as 280 per cent between February and June, Alghabra has said — and labour shortages for contributing to the issues seen at Canada’s major airports, as well as others around the world.


The wait time, as of Monday, to review air travel complaints made to the Canadian Transportation Agency can be more than 18 months.


“I won’t deny that there were very frustrating moments and episodes that was frustrating for passengers, that was frustrating for airlines, that was frustrating for our government, and there were a lot of lessons learned,” Alghabra said.


While still below pre-pandemic levels, aircraft movement is steadily increasing and in September 2022 was 91.7 per cent of where it was in September 2019, recent data from Statistics Canada show.


This year, many Canadians also struggled to get their passports renewed as more applications were made with the easing of travel restrictions.


Alghabra said while passport processing falls under Service Canada, which Minister Karina Gould oversees, his “sense” is that the amount of time it takes to get a passport is now normal or close to normal.


The service standard for a regular passport application made in Canada, as of Monday, is 10 business days if submitted in person at a passport office and 20 business days if done in person at a regular Service Canada centre. The website states that processing times may be longer due to high volumes.


Meanwhile, Canadian airlines in April asked a federal appeal court to quash certain rules around compensation for delayed flights and damaged luggage.


With files from CTVNews.ca Data Journalist Deena Zaidi and The Canadian Press

File source

Tags
Show More
Back to top button
Close