Decision No. 593-P-A-2001

November 15, 2001

November 15, 2001

IN THE MATTER OF a complaint by L. Roger St. Vincent concerning the $653.77 fare offered by Air Canada for a round trip between Toronto and Montréal, departing from Toronto on March 15, 2001 and returning from Montréal on April 4, 2001.

File No. M4370/A74/01-1040


COMPLAINT

On July 30, 2001, L. Roger St. Vincent (hereinafter the complainant) filed with the Canadian Transportation Agency (hereinafter the Agency) the complaint set out in the title.

The complainant submits that he had accumulated enough credits through Lufthansa's "Miles and More" frequent flyer program for a free ticket for a round trip with the carrier between Frankfurt and Toronto. He adds that, although Lufthansa and Air Canada are both members of the Star Alliance network, Lufthansa refused to issue him a ticket for reward travel with Air Canada from Frankfurt to Montréal, where he resides for part of the year. He indicates that he accepted a ticket for travel with Lufthansa departing from Frankfurt on March 15, 2001 and returning from Toronto on April 4, 2001.

The complainant states that after the arrival of Lufthansa's flight at the Lester B. Pearson International Airport in Toronto late in the evening on March 15, 2001, he enquired at the Air Canada counter about a seat on the next available Air Canada flight to Montréal. Upon notification that there was a seat available on a flight departing within the next 50 minutes, the complainant purchased, on credit, a round-trip ticket for travel with Air Canada between Toronto and Montréal, departing from Toronto at 11:00 p.m. and returning from Montréal on April 4, 2001. He adds that he did not check the amount he had paid for the ticket as he expected it to be "around the usual reasonable price of a few hundred dollars". He submits that he only realized a few days before his return flight from Montréal to Toronto that he had paid $653.77 for the round-trip fare, and he feels that he had been "gouged". He indicates that on a previous occasion, he had paid as little as $130 for a late-night round-trip fare with Canada 3000 for travel between Toronto and Montréal.

The complainant is seeking a free round-trip economy ticket for travel with Air Canada between Montréal and Toronto applicable to travel on a stand-by basis effective May 1, 2001.

ISSUES

The issues to be addressed are:

  1. whether Air Canada, including its affiliated licensees (hereinafter Air Canada), was the only person providing a domestic service between Toronto and Montréal within the meaning of section 66 of the Canada Transportation Act, S.C., 1996, c. 10 (hereinafter the CTA) on March 15, 2001; and, if so,
  2. whether the fare offered or published by Air Canada in respect of its service between Toronto and Montréal, which is the subject of the complaint, was unreasonable.

ANALYSIS AND FINDINGS

In making its findings, the Agency has carefully reviewed and considered the complaint as well as information available both publicly and within the Agency concerning air services provided between Toronto and Montréal, including the Internet, the Official Airline Guide and published flight schedules.

Section 66 of the CTA sets out the Agency's jurisdiction over complaints concerning fares applied by air carriers in respect of domestic services. Pursuant to subsection 66(1) of the CTA, the Agency may take certain remedial actions following receipt of a complaint where the Agency finds that:

  1. the air carrier who published or offered the fare which is the subject of the complaint is a licensee who, including affiliated licensees, is the only person providing a domestic service between two points; and
  2. the fare offered or published by the licensee in respect of the service is unreasonable.

Pursuant to subsection 66(4) of the CTA, the Agency's jurisdiction over complaints concerning fares may be extended to domestic routes served by more than one licensee where the Agency is of the opinion that none of the other services between those two points provides a reasonable alternative taking into consideration the number of stops, the number of seats offered, the frequency of service, the flight connections and the total travel time.

The Agency is of the opinion that, on March 15, 2001, in addition to being served by Air Canada, the Toronto-Montréal route was served by Royal Aviation Inc. carrying on business as Royal and/or Conifair (hereinafter Royal), Canjet (2001) Limited (hereinafter Canjet) and Canada 3000 Airlines Limited (hereinafter Canada 3000).

From the information available to the Agency, Air Canada's service between Toronto and Montréal during the week of March 15, 2001 consisted of:

  • approximately 367 direct, non-stop flights per week;
  • service every day of the week;
  • a total weekly capacity of approximately 73,469 seats;
  • large aircraft, as defined in the Air Transportation Regulations, SOR/88-58, as amended (hereinafter the ATR), used on all but 53 flights where medium aircraft are used; and
  • a total travel time between Toronto and Montréal of between one hour and ten minutes and one hour and thirty-five minutes.

Available information also indicates that Royal's service between Toronto and Montréal during the week of March 15, 2001 consisted of:

  • approximately 75 direct, non-stop flights per week;
  • service every day of the week;
  • a total weekly capacity of approximately 12,864 seats;
  • large aircraft, as defined in the ATR, used on all flights; and
  • a total travel time between Toronto and Montréal of approximately one hour and ten minutes.

Available information also indicates that Canjet's service between Toronto and Montréal during the week of March 15, 2001 consisted of:

  • approximately 42 direct flights per week: 36 non-stop flights and 6 flights with one intermediate stop;
  • service every day of the week;
  • a total weekly capacity of approximately 5,586 seats;
  • large aircraft, as defined in the ATR, used on all flights; and
  • a total travel time between Toronto and Montréal of approximately one hour and fifteen minutes for non-stop flights, and between one hour and fifty-five minutes and two hours and five minutes for one-stop flights.

Available information also indicates that Canada 3000's service between Toronto and Montréal during the week of March 15, 2001 consisted of:

  • approximately 22 direct, non-stop flights per week;
  • service every day of the week, except Saturday;
  • a total weekly capacity of approximately 3,680 seats;
  • large aircraft, as defined in the ATR, used on all flights; and
  • a total travel time between Toronto and Montréal of approximately one hour and ten minutes.

The Agency has carefully examined and analyzed the services provided by all the carriers between Toronto and Montréal during the week of March 15, 2001 and, on the basis of the factors set out in subsection 66(4) of the CTA, both individually and collectively, is of the opinion that the services offered by Royal, Canjet, and Canada 3000 provided travellers with alternative services to those offered by Air Canada which were not unreasonable.

The Agency therefore finds that Air Canada was not the only person providing a domestic service between Toronto and Montréal within the meaning of section 66 of the CTA on March 15, 2001.

Accordingly, the complaint does not fall within the purview of section 66 of the CTA.

CONCLUSION

Based on the above findings, the Agency hereby dismisses the complaint.

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