Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre says Ottawa must do more to hold airlines accountable for passengers “breaking their word” and leaving them stranded in airports.
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Speaking in Ottawa during a rare press conference Friday with Parliament Hill reporters, Poilievre laid the blame for the chaos endured by thousands of Canadian travelers last week at the foot of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, argued the airports and airlines union. is regulated and therefore a responsibility of the federal government.
“This is a federal problem,” Poilievre said.
“The solution, of course, is a Canadian transport agency that holds airlines accountable for breaking their word to the people. That’s the job of the agency, it’s a federal agency and it’s the machinery of government that makes that agency work. It is the responsibility of the Prime Minister.
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Poilievre’s comments come as horror stories are emerging of Canadians stranded in Mexico after Sunwing canceled flights to return home.
Some Canadians described being shuffled between hotels in Mexico, sometimes only to find that no rooms had been booked for them, adding that Sunwing executives gave them inaccurate and incomplete information. When will the flight home be booked.
Passengers who did manage to return home say their Sunwing flights appeared “half-empty” even as hundreds of Canadians stranded in Mexico scrapped travel plans across the country late last week Following significant disruptions caused by a major winter storm that disrupted the .
Meanwhile, some passengers have complained on social media that Sunwing has told them that they will be compensated for missing and lost baggage, a much smaller amount than is legally required.
The travel company told many passengers it would compensate them up to US$450 – roughly C$600 – for exchange of luggage that did not arrive at their destination.
Sunwing has “revised” that amount to C$2,000, but it is still less than the C$2,300 maximum. referred to in the Air Passenger Safety Regulations of Canada It determines what airlines must compensate for lost baggage.
Transport Minister Omar Alagbara said earlier this week that he was “very concerned” about reports from Sunwing Airlines passengers, describing the situation as “unacceptable”.
“Passengers have rights under the Air Passenger Safety Regulations to ensure robust passenger safety in situations like this, and our government will continue to ensure that these rights are protected,” Alghabra wrote. A statement published on Twitter.
But Poilievre says Ottawa is not doing enough to see these rights enforced. He pointed to a significant backlog that exists at the Canadian Transportation Agency—the regulatory body charged with enforcing new rules set to go into effect in 2019 that require airlines to compensate passengers for lost or damaged baggage—and to enforce airline controls. delays and cancellations are required. ,
The agency’s website says the current wait time for passenger complaints to be reviewed “can exceed 18 months.”
“So, your whole vacation is ruined, you’re sleeping on a cold, concrete floor at an airport somewhere, and what does Justin Trudeau offer you? A chance to file a complaint and wait 18 months to get possible compensation.” ,” Poilievre said on Friday.
“Not very good.”
He called on Ottawa to clear the backlog of complaints “so that airlines can be held accountable for their pathetic service,” Poilievre said.
He also said the federal government needed stricter and clearer rules to ensure travelers were compensated for ruined holidays.
Federal law gives the agency’s enforcement officers the power to investigate companies and individuals they believe have broken airline rules and issue fines of up to $25,000.
The regulator’s website shows that over the past five years, just one carrier – WestJet, for 55 instances at the end of January – has been fined for not providing adequate compensation to passengers. The total fine was $11,000.
Gábor Lukács, president and founder of the Air Passenger Rights Group, says many passengers don’t know what their rights are because of the complexity of the rules.
And even when they do, enforcement is an issue, he told The Canadian Press earlier this week.
He encouraged Canadians to call their local member of parliament and call for better enforcement of air passenger rights in Canada.
“The government is turning a blind eye to the airlines’ misconduct,” Lucas said.
In response to Poilievre’s criticisms on Friday, the transport minister’s office said passengers’ frustration over delayed and canceled flights this holiday season is understandable, reiterating that what they have experienced is “unacceptable”.
But Alaghbra spokesman Valerie Glazer also said Canada’s air passenger safety rules enacted by the Liberals in 2019 and updated this fall to ensure compensation and refund rules also apply to flights that are a are canceled or delayed for reasons outside the air carrier. Control including major weather events or an epidemic.
“In all the years that the Conservatives were in power, including the Conservative government that included Pierre Poilievre, they never did anything to protect air travelers,” Glazer said in a statement to Granthshala News.
In response to calls to clear the backlog at the Transportation Agency of Canada, Ottawa earmarked $11 million in budget 2022 specifically to address the backlog, “and we will continue to work with them so they have the resources they need, Glazer said.
The agency is an independent, quasi-judicial…