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Dan-in-Ottawa

Air travellers getting rights?

This week, the Liberal government introduced the Air Passenger Bill of Rights in the House of Commons.

Technically, these proposed changes are part of Bill C-49, “An Act to amend the Canada Transportation Act and other Acts respecting transportation and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts."

What are some of these proposed changes? For the most part, it is proposed to have clearer regulations for situations that may commonly arise when travelling by air.

Some examples are compensation minimums for denied boardings that arise from overbooking, delays or other cancellations.

Guidelines also are proposed for lost or damaged luggage, even tarmac delays over an established length of time are now subject to this Bill. Other changes include children sitting next to a parent without an additional seat selection charge and standards for the safe transport of musical instruments.

Aside from these consumer friendly changes that I believe most air travellers will welcome, there are also some proposed changes from an industry perspective.

Most notable is that the current restriction on foreign ownership of a Canadian airline will be increased from 25 per cent up to 49 per cent. This change will not apply to specialty air services such as firefighting.

Another proposed change is new powers for the Transportation Minister to approve joint ventures between two or more different air carriers. This change is intended to help accommodate standard industry practices elsewhere and potentially to increase competition.

It is also proposed that airport security screening services provided by CATSA will now be supported on a cost recovery basis. The government promotes this clause as allowing for an airport to pay for additional airport security screening services to help establish new routes.

However, it could also result in a form of downloading where airport operators are forced to pay for a larger share of security services that in turn increases the costs of air travel. Presently airports create significant revenues for the Federal Government from fees and charges that are already paid for by passengers.

There is always a concern that some Canadians living near the border may instead use more price competitive alternatives at nearby U.S. airports. At this point more details and further clarification will be required.

My thoughts? One item I would like to see included would be an extended time frame for consumers who have airline credits to use those airline credits that currently expire within a fairly narrow window of time.

Overall, I believe the majority of these changes will be welcome while details on cost recovery for CATSA security services will need more clarification although in principle I am not opposed to cost recovery as a means of service delivery.

I welcome your comments, questions and concerns on the Transportation Modernization Act or any other subject before the House of Commons.

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About the Author

Before entering public life, Dan was the owner of Kick City Martial Arts, responsible for training hundreds of men, women and youth to bring out their best.

MP Dan’s parliamentary record includes being recognized by the Ottawa Citizen in 2015 as one of five members of Parliament with a 100 per cent voting attendance record. 

Locally in British Columbia, MP Dan Albas has been consistently one of the lowest spending members of Parliament, on office and administration related costs, despite operating two offices to better serve local constituent.

MP Dan Albas is consistently recognized as one of Canada’s top 10 most active members of Parliament on Twitter (@danalbas) and also continues to write a weekly column published in many local newspapers and on this website.

In October 2015, MP Dan Albas was re-elected to Parliament representing the new riding of Central Okanagan Similkameen Nicola. Dan is currently the shadow minister for small business and sits on the Standing Committee on Finance.

MP Dan welcomes comments, questions and concerns from citizens and is often available to speak to groups and organizations on matters of federal concern.  

He can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free at 1-800-665-8711.



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