30 NOV 2015: The Federal Court of Appeal ordered the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) to decide how passengers bumped from Canada-bound British Airways flights can seek compensation in Canada.

The current CTA policy on British Airways, covers only passengers travelling from Canada to the EU, but not those travelling from the EU to Canada.

The judgment was applauded by Halifax-based air passenger rights advocate Gabor Lukacs who contended that the CTA's decision is contrary to the Air Transportation Regulations and prevents Canadian passengers from seeking compensation in Canada, leaving them only with the unrealistic option of suing in the EU.

The majority of the court agreed with Lukacs, and sent the matter back to the CTA for redetermination. Justice Near, writing for the majority, found that the CTA's decision "lacks clarity" and is inconsistent with the case law, and held that the CTA must clearly address the rights of passengers who are bumped from flights from the EU to Canada.

"The case underscores that Canada is behind developed and even some developing countries," says Lukacs.

The EU, the US, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Israel, Peru, and Turkey have all passed air passenger rights legislation. In Canada, however, airlines can set their terms and conditions as they see fit, subject only to a review by the CTA on a case-by-case basis. Since 2008, Lukacs has successfully challenged the terms and conditions of airlines in 24 cases.

"I am concerned that there may be elements of regulatory capture at play in the CTA," says Lukacs. "It has turned from an industry watchdog into a lapdog, and lately, very little is done to enforce the rights of passengers."

Sam Barone was a chief lobbyist for the airline industry in Canada before he was appointed Vice-chair of the CTA by the then Harper government. Barone was one of the two members who made the CTA decision that Lukacs successfully appealed.

 

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