Winnipeg MP to launch bill on air travellers' rights

Winnipeg MP Jim Maloway plans to introduce a bill of rights for airline passengers in February to protect them when their flights are delayed or cancelled as happened during the Christmas holidays.

Winnipeg MP Jim Maloway plans to introduce a bill of rights for airline passengers in February to protect them when their flights are delayed or cancelled, as happened to many during the Christmas holidays.

Canada should follow the lead of the European Union, where passengers are compensated when flights are delayed or cancelled, even if it's due to poor weather, Maloway told CBC News.

They are also protected when they are bumped from a flight or have baggage problems, said the NDP MP.

If Air Canada overbooks a flight in Europe, bumped passengers are entitled to a payment of $1,200 as well as hotel and meal costs, he said.

"They [Air Canada] are used to those rules there, but they don't apply those rules here," Maloway said.

The Consumers' Association of Canada is working on a similar proposal to protect airline travellers, said national president Bruce Cran.

Given the many complaints from air travellers over Christmas, particularly those on Air Canada flights, it's obvious new rules are needed, Cran said.

The Association of Canadian Travel Agencies supports the passenger rights proposal as long as it strikes a fair balance between business and consumers, said chief operating officer David McCaig. 

"We certainly don't want it too onerous for a company to stay in business," he said.

Air Canada refused to comment on the issue, but a spokesperson did say the airline meets or exceeds the regulations of the regions where it operates, including the European Union.