Decision No. 183-AT-A-2005

March 31, 2005

March 31, 2005

IN THE MATTER OF Decision No. 653-AT-A-2003 dated November 21, 2003 - Jordan Day-Lopes versus Air Transat A.T. Inc. carrying on business as Air Transat.

File No. U3570/01-29


BACKGROUND

In Decision No. 653-AT-A-2003 dated November 21, 2003, the Canadian Transportation Agency (hereinafter the Agency) made its determination with respect to an application filed by Francine Day-Lopes, on behalf of her son Jordan Day-Lopes. The application pertained to the seating accommodations provided to Jordan Day-Lopes by Air Transat A.T. Inc. carrying on business as Air Transat (hereinafter Air Transat) during two trips between Toronto, Ontario, Canada and Lisbon, Portugal in 1998 and 1999; and to the handling of and damage to Jordan Day-Lopes' wheelchair during a trip between Toronto, Ontario, Canada and Orlando, Florida, United States of America in February 2001.

The Agency determined that the failure by Air Transat to provide accessible seating to Jordan Day-Lopes on his two trips between Toronto and Lisbon in 1998 and 1999 constituted an undue obstacle to his mobility. With respect to Jordan Day-Lopes' trip between Toronto and Orlando in 2001, the Agency found that the damage to his wheelchair by Air Transat while in transit from Toronto to Orlando constituted an undue obstacle to his mobility. The Agency also found that the delay of one hour for the return of his wheelchair following the arrival of his return flight in Toronto also constituted an undue obstacle to his mobility.

Pursuant to Decision No. 653-AT-A-2003, Air Transat was directed by the Agency to review its training program with respect to policies and procedures for dealing with the needs of persons with disabilities, and consider the nature and frequency of refresher training. Air Transat was also required to undertake this review and provide the Agency with the results no later than sixty (60) days from the date of the Decision. Following its review of the required information, the Agency advised that it would determine whether further action was required.

ISSUE

The issue to be addressed is whether the measures taken by Air Transat meet the requirements of Decision No. 653-AT-A-2003.

FACTS

On January 21, 2004, Air Transat filed its response to Decision No. 653-AT-A-2003. Following Air Transat's initial response, discussions were held between Agency staff and Air Transat personnel in order to clarify certain training matters. In response to Agency staff requests, Air Transat submitted subsequent information on June 10 and November 4, 2004 and January 10, 2005.

On January 21, 2004, Air Transat indicated that its training program for its employees and contractors was in the process of being updated and revised. Air Transat also advised that it was in the process of creating a series of training DVDs which would cover the procedures for the handling of passengers with disabilities and the dismantling and loading of mobility aids. The target date for completion was April 2004.

On June 10, 2004, Air Transat submitted copies of its revised Ground Services Passenger Handling Manual along with its updated Schedule (Section 11) providing a description of its ground services training program in accordance with the Personnel Training for the Assistance of Persons with Disabilities Regulations (hereinafter the Training Regulations).

On November 4, 2004, Air Transat provided the Agency with a copy of its Ground Services Training DVD which covers services provided to passengers with disabilities from the time they arrive at the Air Transat ticket counter, up to, and including the moment they enplane and deplane the aircraft.

On January 10, 2005, Air Transat filed with the Agency a copy of its Cabin Attendant Training Manual.

ANALYSIS AND FINDINGS

In making its findings, the Agency has reviewed and considered all of the information and material submitted by Air Transat in response to Decision No. 653-AT-A-2003.

The Agency finds that the Schedule (Section 11) covers the requisite areas outlined in the Training Regulations. The Schedule indicates that contracted Air Transat passenger handling personnel along with contracted ramp handling agents receive hands-on training in the following areas:

  1. recognizing the needs of persons with disabilities;
  2. determining the level of assistance required after communicating with persons with disabilities; and,
  3. how to assist persons with disabilities from the point of arrival at the Air Transat ticket counter to the door of the aircraft.

The Schedule (Section 11) also annotates the duration, frequency and how the training will be evaluated by Air Transat upon completion.

The Agency notes that the Air Transat Ground Services Passenger Handling Manual addresses situations similar to those which directly resulted in the difficulties encountered by Jordan Day-Lopes on his flights with Air Transat. In particular, the Ground Services Passenger Handling Manual covers the personalized services Air Transat personnel will provide to persons with disabilities, which includes providing appropriate seating for all passengers with disabilities when requested, at least 48 hours prior to departure. Once a passenger has identified himself/herself as a passenger with a disability, he/she is transferred to a dedicated agent within the seat selection department of Air Transat. Even if the best available seat is taken by another passenger at the time of the flight, Air Transat will take all possible measures to try and accommodate the request, including reassigning other passengers to different seats. In the event of equipment substitution, Air Transat personnel, following directives set out in the Ground Services Passenger Handling Manual, will ensure that passengers with disabilities are assigned appropriate seating.

The Air Transat Ground Services Passenger Handling Manual also addresses the specific handling procedures to be used by ground personnel in the handling of mobility aids. The updated procedures now require that all mobility aids be packaged, wrapped, and treated with the utmost care and that the mobility aid be delivered to the gate without undue delay. The Agency notes that the updated handling procedures as identified in the Ground Services Passenger Handling Manual should help ensure that mobility aids carried on Air Transat aircraft are not damaged in transit.

The Agency notes that the Air Transat training DVD developed by the Manager of Ground Services constitutes a good training medium for courses to be given to contracted ground handling agents at Air Transat duty stations worldwide. Air Transat indicates that the training DVD is designed to be shown to front line personnel around the world so that they are provided with clear direction on the handling of passengers with disabilities and what, specifically, are Air Transat's expectations in this regard. The Agency acknowledges that Air Transat has already commenced this training program at several of its duty stations. The Agency has reviewed the Air Transat Ground Services Training DVD and notes that the relevant modules depicted on the DVD address the interaction between ground handling agents and persons with disabilities, in particular, in situations similar to those which resulted in the difficulties experienced by Jordan Day-Lopes on his flights with Air Transat.

As a result of its review of the material filed by Air Transat, the Agency is satisfied that the measures undertaken by the carrier should assist in preventing the recurrence of situations similar to those experienced by Jordan Day-Lopes.

CONCLUSION

Based on the above findings, the Agency is satisfied that Air Transat has met the requirements of Decision No. 653-AT-A-2003. Accordingly, the Agency does not contemplate any further action in this matter.

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