Travel complaints backlog mounts as regulator faces staff shortage

Complaints backlog mounts

Canada's transport regulator says its backlog of air passenger complaints is growing as a staff shortage comes up against a summer of airport chaos.

Tom Oommen, director general of analysis and outreach at the Canadian Transportation Agency, says the quasi-judicial body is trying to hire more facilitators who can help resolve customer complaints against airlines.

The complaint backlog ballooned to more than 15,300 in May and rose further starting in June as a surge in travellers overwhelmed airline and airport resources following two years of muted demand.

Oommen says it takes about 19 business days on average to resolve a complaint once it reaches an agency facilitator, but that a file now languishes for about a year before it lands on their desk, with case numbers continuing to climb.

He says complaints seeking compensation for flight delays and cancellations as well as misplaced luggage comprise the bulk of cases.

Oommen says job retention is among the staffing challenges facing the Gatineau, Que.-based regulator, which pays new facilitators between $65,500 and $70,700 per year, according to the federal government job bank.

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