(Calgary) WestJet is calling on the federal government to allow airlines to recover a portion of the costs for passenger compensation from other airline industry partners, if those partners played a role in delays or disruptions to flights.
That’s what Calgary airline CEO Alexis von Hoensbroech said Wednesday at a Calgary Chamber of Commerce event. He said he supports the Air Passengers’ Bill of Rights introduced in Canada in 2019, which outlines how airlines must communicate with, reimburse or compensate travellers, whether for delayed flights or for damaged baggage, so that airlines do not operate in a vacuum.
“There’s airports, security, border control, ground agents,” von Hoensbroech told reporters, adding that none of those parties are subject to existing passenger protection regulations. airlines like airlines.
“No matter what, it’s always the airline that essentially becomes the insurance company for the entire industry,” he lamented.
Over the past year, thousands of Canadians have suffered from airport and flight delays as the pandemic-stricken aviation sector struggled to cope with a dramatic upsurge in request for air transport.
Under Canada’s Air Passenger Protection Regulations, travelers can seek compensation directly from the airline if a flight is delayed for more than three hours for a problem that the carrier is responsible for but is not related to security.
Some passenger rights advocates have suggested that in addition to compensating travelers, airlines should be subject to stiff monetary penalties if they fail to meet their obligations under the Passenger Bill of Rights.
Alexis Von Hoensbroech declined to say how much WestJet has paid out in passenger compensation over the past year, but he says the amount is substantial.
“Last year we were faced with millions of dollars,” he said, while pointing out that when airlines are forced to bear a financial burden of this size, they ultimately have no problem. no choice but to raise their prices.
“Ultimately, we have to recover all of our costs, including compensation,” he explained.
Alghabra said last month that the Canadian Transportation Agency had a waiting list of 42,000 airline-related passenger complaints. He pledged an additional $75.9 million to the quasi-judicial body to help it speed up the processing of complaints.
Von Hoensbroech assures that WestJet is not trying to shirk its responsibilities to passengers, but hopes that Minister Alghabra will put in place a mechanism for airlines to share the costs of compensating travelers with the party the source of the problem, whether it’s a delay at customs or a broken baggage-handling machine at an airport.
“From what we’re hearing, it’s a concept that they (the federal government) are pursuing, but I don’t know when that will happen,” he said.