Air Canada has been ordered to pay more than $1,500 in damages and fees to two B.C. passengers whose travel plans were delayed more than seven hours due to staffing constraints amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
British Columbia’s Civil Resolution Tribunal found that Inayat Singh and Suk Young Yoon were owed the compensation under the federal Air Passenger Protection Regulations after their flight was cancelled and they were rebooked on a later flight.
The pair were scheduled to leave Victoria International Airport at 12:30 a.m. on Aug. 22. 2021, and arrive in Toronto at 7:56 a.m.
However, the flight was cancelled a few hours before its scheduled departure due to what the airline called “crew constraints resulting from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our operations,” according to the tribunal’s decision, issued Thursday.
Air Canada rebooked the pair on another flight arriving in Toronto by 3:30 p.m. that same day.
The company argued it did not owe any compensation to Singh and Yoon, saying such flight disruptions cannot be analyzed individually, but must be assessed “within the context of the aviation ecosystem” during the pandemic, which was beyond the airline’s control.
Tribunal vice-chair Shelley Lopez found Air Canada’s response “insufficient” and “vague.”
“There is no express exception under the APPR [Air Passenger Protection Regulations] for delays due to disruptions in the overall ‘aviation ecosystem,’ nor are there any express exceptions due to impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Lopez said.
“I find the delay was within Air Canada’s control and was not for safety purposes.”
The tribunal ordered the airline to pay the passengers $1,561.78 within 21 days of the decision. The total compensation includes $1,400 in damages, $125 in tribunal fees and $36.78 in pre-judgment interest.