Canadian Transportation Agency issues determination in Sunwing inquiry – Sunwing to pay $694,500 penalty
April 8, 2019 – Gatineau, QC – Canadian Transportation Agency
The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) today issued its determination, in the matter of widespread service issues experienced by passengers on Sunwing flights to or from Toronto Pearson International Airport or Montréal Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, between April 14 and 18, 2018.
A CTA designated enforcement officer subsequently issued a Notice of Violation against the airline.
The CTA found that Sunwing did not properly apply its scheduled international tariff rules in respect of:
- flight delays, including the provision of hotel and meal vouchers to passengers;
- communication, including communication on flight status and information about delayed or lost baggage; and
- tarmac delays.
Additionally, the CTA found that the Montreal Convention applies to any Sunwing baggage and delay claim related to this event. The CTA also found that, in circumstances such as these, the airline is responsible for any failings by its agents who provide services on its behalf.
Sunwing must compensate passengers for out-of-pocket expenses incurred as a consequence of its failure to properly apply the terms and conditions set out in its Scheduled International Tariff no later than June 28, 2019.
As the Montreal Convention applies to all of its international flights, Sunwing must also compensate passengers for reasonable expenses incurred as a result of flight delays experienced by passengers or loss, damage or delay to passengers' baggage.
These expenses include:
- expenses for hotel accommodations, transfers to hotels and meal expenses incurred as a result of the delay; and
- expenses for lost, delayed or damaged baggage, including the cost of replacement items.
This Determination addresses the 574 active complaints filed by individual passengers with the CTA. Sunwing must make every effort to contact the passengers and settle expense claims individually with all passengers who are owed compensation, whether or not they submitted complaints. The parties can avail themselves of the CTA's facilitation and mediation services, which are available free of charge, to the extent required to reach agreement on compensation.
The CTA does not have the statutory authority to award general damages or compensation to passengers for matters such as any inconvenience, stress, pain and suffering, or loss of vacation time.
In addition to compensation owed to passengers, a CTA Designated Enforcement Officer has issued a penalty of $694,500 against the airline. Sunwing has until May 10, 2019 to pay the penalty.
Sunwing must prepare a contingency plan to ensure it meets its tariff obligations in cases of future widespread flight disruptions. Information on this plan must be provided to the CTA no later than August 30, 2019.
In addition, Sunwing must revise and refile its lost or damaged baggage international tariff provisions to be consistent with the Montreal Convention, no later than May 8, 2019.
"This is a significant determination for air passengers and air carriers. It underscores that passengers have rights and recourse when their air travel is disrupted, and that even when problems stem from events such as bad weather, there is a minimum standard of treatment to which all passengers are entitled."
– Scott Streiner, Chair and CEO of the Canadian Transportation Agency
For more information
- Notice of Violation
- Inquiry Officer's Report
- Canadian Transportation Agency extends its inquiry into Sunwing flight incidents to include Montreal flights
- Canadian Transportation Agency launches inquiry
- Enforcement actions taken by the CTA’s enforcement officers
- Types of enforcement actions and contraventions
About the CTA
The Canadian Transportation Agency is an independent, quasi-judicial tribunal and regulator that has, with respect to all matters necessary for the exercise of its jurisdiction, all the powers of a superior court. The CTA has three core mandates: helping to keep the national transportation system running efficiently and smoothly, protecting the fundamental right of persons with disabilities to accessible transportation services, and providing consumer protection for air passengers. To help advance these mandates, the CTA makes and enforces ground rules that establish the rights and responsibilities of transportation service providers and users and level the playing field among competitors, resolves disputes using a range of tools from facilitation and mediation to arbitration and adjudication, and ensures that transportation providers and users are aware of their rights and responsibilities and how the CTA can help them.