Canadian airlines ask appeal court to quash new passenger rights rules

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People view the newly revealed Air Canada Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner aircraft at a hangar at the Toronto Pearson International Airport in Mississauga, Ont., Thursday, February 9, 2017. Air Canada says that negative changes to foreign exchange rates drove it to a $231 million net loss in the fourth quarter, but it would have otherwise turned a profit during the three-month period. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch

Canadian airlines are among the hundreds of carriers asking the Federal Court of Appeal to quash new rules around passenger rights.

Air Canada and Porter Airlines Inc., along with some 290 member airlines of the International Air Transport Association, say in a court filing that required compensation for passengers dealing with delayed flights and damaged luggage violates international standards and should be rendered invalid.

The court application, filed last week, also says nullifying the new provisions would avoid confusion for international passengers who could be subject to travel regimes from multiple jurisdictions.

John McKenna, who heads the Air Transport Association of Canada, calls the new rules “ridiculous” and says they will drive up the cost of flying.

Passenger rights advocates say the rules do not go far enough, arguing the criteria for monetary compensation are tough to meet as passengers would have to present evidence typically in the hands of an airline. Gabor Lukacs, founder of the group Air Passenger Rights, says the regulations give airlines “carte blanche to refuse” compensation based on unverifiable maintenance issues.

Starting July 15, passengers will have to be compensated up to $2,400 if they are denied boarding because a flight was overbooked and receive up to $2,100 for lost or damaged luggage. Compensation of up to $1,000 for delays and other payments for cancelled flights will take effect in December.

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