The Senate transport committee has introduced its own amendments to a government bill aimed at providing more protections for airline passengers.
The senators amended Bill C-49 to specify that air passengers cannot be left stranded on the tarmac for more than 90 minutes without food or water, and to preserve the ability of consumer rights advocates to bring public interest complaints — two issues raised by airline passenger rights advocate Gabor Lukacs.
Lukacs, who says the original bill would have allowed for tarmac delays of up to three hours, calls the Senate amendments a victory for travellers.
He adds, however, that the fight is not over, because the bill as it stands scraps compensation requirements for flights affected by mechanical failures.
There’s also the matter of the House of Commons, which can either accept the amendments once the bill is adopted by the Senate, or reject them outright.
Lukacs says the original bill as introduced by the Liberal government would actually result in a rollback of existing protections for airline passengers.
A spokeswoman for Transportation Minister Marc Garneau says the legislation, rather than spelling out a passenger bill of rights, directs the Canadian Transportation Agency to develop regulations that would give air passengers more rights.
Lukacs says a letter-writing campaign begun four weeks ago by his group Air Passenger Rights has already generated more than 100,000 emails to senators from people urging changes to C-49.
“The government’s bill still attempts to absolve airlines of their responsibility for maintenance issues,” Lukacs said.
“We will now have to deal with this provision…In the meantime, we thank senators for recognizing that 3 hours is too long to be forced to sit in an airplane on the tarmac.”