Air Carrier Compliance Report: Domestic Carriers

Background

The Canadian Transportation Agency (Agency) is responsible for ensuring that undue obstacles to the mobility of persons with disabilities are removed from the federal transportation system, which includes transportation by air, rail, and extra-provincial ferry and bus. It seeks to remove such obstacles by:

  • developing regulations, including the Air Transportation Regulations SOR/88-58 (ATR), and codes of practice;
  • communicating with the transportation industry and the community of persons with disabilities;
  • resolving individual accessibility-related complaints; and by ordering corrective measures as required.

In addition to enforcement measures, the Agency ensures compliance with its rulings, the ATR and codes of practice through periodic monitoring exercises. The Agency has adopted a risk-based approach for monitoring compliance and works closely with industry and other parties to assist them in areas where compliance has not been achieved.

As part of its regular monitoring, the Agency assessed the compliance level of air carriers operating aircraft with 30 or more passenger seats.

This report describes the results of this monitoring.

Which carriers were assessed

Consistent with its risk-based approach to monitoring, the Agency focused its monitoring on the following major air carriers, which carry over 90 percent of the scheduled passenger traffic in Canada:

  • Air Canada
  • Air Canada Jazz
  • Air Transat
  • Canjet Airlines
  • Porter Airlines
  • Sunwing Airlines Inc.
  • WestJet

Although not the main focus of the Agency’s monitoring, due to their smaller size, the following carriers voluntarily participated in the monitoring by using the self-assessment tool:

  • First Air
  • Air Inuit Ltd.
  • Air Creebec Inc.
  • Central Mountain Air Ltd.
  • Voyageur Airways Ltd.
  • Hawkair Aviation Services Ltd.
  • Provincial Airlines Ltd.
  • West Wind Aviation Ltd.

What was assessed

The Agency assessed air carriers’ compliance with provisions from the ATR and the Code of Practice: Removing Communication Barriers for Travellers with Disabilities (Communication Code) that relate to the following topics:

  • Assistance (e.g., at check-in, during boarding, transfers to/from wheelchair)
  • Carriage of mobility aids on board aircraft
  • Services for persons using mobility aids (e.g., disassembling and packaging, identifying as priority baggage, and periodically checking on passengers)
  • Carriage of service animals
  • Administrative services (information on available services and the conditions under which they are offered)
  • Damaged or lost mobility aids
  • Telecommunication systems for reservations and information (e.g., TTYs – teletypewriters or “text phones” – for use by persons with hearing or speech impairments)
  • Onboard safety videos

A detailed description of the provisions monitored by the Agency can be found in Appendix A.

How the monitoring was done

The Agency's monitoring consisted of a self-assessment tool used by the air carriers, as well as an examination of their Web sites, policies and procedures, and direct follow up with air carriers as needed. 

Findings of the monitoring exercise

Major carriers

The major domestic carriers that were assessed together carry over 90 percent of the scheduled passenger traffic in Canada. These carriers were found to be fully compliant with the standards that were assessed.

The results confirm a high level of accessibility for persons with disabilities travelling with major domestic carriers.

Other domestic carriers

Although the other carriers that voluntarily used the self-assessment tool carry only a small percentage of the total scheduled passenger traffic in Canada, they nonetheless carry a significant portion of passengers in some regions of Canada.

Air Creebec Inc., First Air, Provincial Airlines Ltd. and Voyageur Airways Ltd. were fully compliant with the standards that were assessed. 

Air Inuit Ltd., Central Mountain Air Ltd., Hawkair Aviation Services Ltd., and West Wind Aviation Ltd. showed positive results overall. However, they need to improve in some specific areas to be fully compliant with the accessibility standards that were assessed.

Air Inuit Ltd.

Air Inuit’s results were generally positive. However, because Air Inuit Ltd. did not respond to the question regarding whether it is compliant with the ATR provision that requires air carriers to indicate in a person’s reservation record the disability-related services that they will provide to the person, it is unclear whether Air Inuit complies with this requirement relating to administrative services.

Central Mountain Air Ltd.

In its response to the self-assessment tool, Central Mountain Air Ltd. either answered in the negative or did not answer questions about its compliance with requirements of the ATR relating to the following areas:

  • services for mobility aids
  • administrative services (i.e., providing written confirmation of disability-related services to passengers; advising appropriate personnel of disability-related services to be provided)
  • damaged or lost mobility aids

Hawkair Aviation Services Ltd.

In its response to the self-assessment tool, Hawkair Aviation Services Ltd. indicated that it was not fully compliant with requirements of the ATR relating to the following two areas:

  • administrative services (i.e., provide written confirmation of disability-related services)
  • services for mobility aids (e.g., disassembling and packaging, identifying as priority baggage)

West Wind Aviation Ltd.

In its response to the self-assessment tool, West Wind Aviation indicated it was not fully compliant with requirements of the ATR relating to the following area:

  • administrative services (i.e., provide written confirmation of disability-related services; transmit disability-related services to be provided to the appropriate personnel)

Future action

The Agency will continue to work with domestic carriers on areas of non-compliance. Periodic updated reports will be provided on the Agency's Web site as appropriate.

The Agency will continue to monitor the accessibility of the federal transportation system to ensure that customers with disabilities can travel without encountering undue obstacles to their mobility.

For further information:
Canadian Transportation Agency
Ottawa, ON  K1A 0N9
Tel: 1-888-222-2592
TTY: 1-800-669-5575

Web:  www.otc-cta.gc.ca
E-mail: info@otc-cta.gc.ca

Appendix A

Below is a detailed description of the provisions that were monitored from Part VII of the Air Transportation Regulations (ATR) and the Code of Practice: Removing Communication Barriers for Travellers with Disabilities.

A) Provision of assistance

The ATR require air carriers to provide assistance when requested by a traveller with a disability. Specifically, assistance must be provided for:

  • registration at the check-in counter;
  • proceeding to the boarding area;
  • boardingand deplaning;
  • retrieving checked baggage;
  • getting to a representative of another air carrier within the same terminal for a change of flight;
  • moving to the general public area; and
  • transferring to a wheelchair, boarding chair or other mobility aid provided by the air carrier from the person's own mobility aid.

B) Carriage of mobility aids on board aircraft

Mobility and technical aids identified in the ATR must be carried as priority baggage at no charge. An air carrier is responsible for disassembling, if necessary, and packaging a wheelchair or other mobility aid in preparation for a flight. On arrival, the aid must be reassembled and returned promptly to the owner.

The aids covered by the ATR are:

  • electric and manually-operated wheelchairs;
  • scooters;
  • walkers, canes, crutches and braces; and
  • communication devices, prostheses and medical devices.

Air carriers are not required to carry electric wheelchairs, scooters or manually-operated rigid-frame wheelchairs, if an aircraft has fewer than 60 seats and its design does not permit the carriage of such aids. However, they are responsible for informing the passenger about other arrangements that are available to transport the aid.

C) Services for persons using mobility aids

Air carrier personnel are also required to ask periodically if assistance is needed by any passenger who is in a wheelchair, boarding chair or any other device in which the passenger is not independently mobile, and to provide such assistance if it is within the usual practice of the carrier or is required by the ATR. This is required only when the passenger is waiting for a flight after check-in or is in transit between flights.

D) Carriage of service animals

Properly trained service animals are allowed on board the aircraft at no extra charge. Service animals are permitted to remain on the floor at the passenger's feet as long as they are properly harnessed. Passengers should note that they may be required to produce written proof that their service animal has been trained by a professional service animal institution.

E) Administration

Travellers with disabilities are entitled to know what services they can choose to make their journey trouble-free. The ATR require the following:

  • Information on available services, and the conditions under which they are offered, must be provided to those who request it when a reservation is made.
  • Passengers with disabilities must be asked what services will be required and, where possible, information on services to be provided must be recorded in a passenger's reservation record.
  • A written confirmation of the services to be provided must be given to the passenger.

F) Damaged or lost mobility aids

Air carriers are responsible for the care and carriage of mobility aids during a flight. If a passenger's mobility aid is damaged during a flight or lost, an air carrier must provide a suitable temporary replacement immediately upon arrival, at no cost. A passenger is entitled to use the temporary replacement until their own aid is either repaired or replaced.

An air carrier is also responsible for the prompt and adequate repair and return of a damaged mobility aid at the air carrier’s own expense.

If a mobility aid cannot be repaired or is lost and cannot be located within 96 hours of a passenger's arrival, an air carrier is responsible for replacing it with an identical aid that is satisfactory to the person, or for reimbursing the full replacement cost.

G) Telecommunication systems for reservations and information

Transportation service providers who use telephone lines for reservations, information or any services related to travel are to provide an equal level of service to passengers with disabilities through the use of alternative communication systems, such as a TTY line (teletypewriters or “text phones”), which is an alternative used by persons who are deaf, deafened or hard of hearing.

When automated voice messaging systems are used for reservation or information lines, a readily accessible link to a live operator should be prominently featured and/or the option of leaving a message to have the call returned should be provided. The option to have automated messages or menus repeated should also be provided. Automated voice messaging systems are not accessible to TTY users. As such, all information and services available through these systems are to be available by using an alternative communication system such as a TTY line.

H) Onboard safety videos

Carriers are to ensure that all information presented in onboard safety videos in a visual format is described verbally; and that all audible information is presented visually.

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