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Amid travel hearings, WestJet exec opposes automatic compensation

WestJet’s vice president of external affairs said the airline opposed cross-cutting federal rules around automatically compensating passengers in the event of a flight delay, while the federal government The state says it is committed to strengthening passenger rights regulations.

“We don’t think mass automated policies are the way to go,” Andrew Gibbons told CTV host Vassy Kapelos in an interview that aired on Sunday. “We like to have a personal relationship with our guests.”

Gibbons says he also hopes to see changes to federal regulations, but he hopes those updates will include provisions to share responsibility for delays and cancellations. across the industry, rather than leaving airlines to blame.

Gibbons was among a number of air travel officials who testified before the House transportation committee during a five-hour hearing on Thursday. Representatives of other airlines and airports, as well as Transport Minister Omar Alghabra, also testified.

Alghabra said he is committed to strengthening existing regulations — passed in 2019 and most recently updated last September — to prevent situations like the chaos that have hampered Canadian travelers during their travels. Summer vacation and winter vacation repeat.

Meanwhile, the NDP wants to see changes including automatic compensation for passengers when their flights are delayed.

WestJet canceled more than 1,600 flights between December 16, 2022 and January 8, 2023, and Gibbons said the airline was “responsible for the [its] executive decision” in proactively canceling flights instead of keeping passengers waiting at the airport gate or on the runway. He, along with other aviation officials who testified on Thursday, blamed the delays and cancellations largely on weather conditions.

Gibbons said that while he opposes the general idea of ​​overarching regulations like auto compensation, “that depends on the whole package” of federal government rules, specifically liability for The disruption doesn’t just belong to the airlines.

“One of the gaps is in the regulatory environment, where there are only terms and rules of accountability for airlines,” he said. “And if you accept the premise that a runway delay, or a delay or cancellation of any kind, can be more than an airline’s copyright, then we also need a The regulatory environment reflects that, and that’s what we’re looking for from the minister.”

Alghabra hasn’t said how long travelers and the air travel industry can expect changes to current regulations, only knowing that the findings from the transportation commission hearings will be included. A broader review is underway. In the meantime, the commission remains prepared to hear from Via Rail following delays for train travelers over the holidays, as well as commuters and passenger advocacy groups.


Featuring files from CTVNews.ca Senior Digital Parliamentary Correspondent, Rachel Aiello



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