The Canadian Transportation Agency (Agency) issued on July 12, 2022, a decision on air passenger rights in Canada. In this decision, the Agency found that the cancellation of the applicant's flight, which was due to a crew shortage, was within WestJet's control. The Agency ordered WestJet to pay compensation for inconvenience to the applicant in the amount of $1,000.
The applicant experienced a flight cancellation on the day of scheduled departure, and was rebooked by WestJet to travel the following day. The applicant arrived at his destination 21 hours later than originally scheduled.
WestJet rejected his request for compensation on the basis that the flight was cancelled due to crew member availability, and was therefore within its control but required for safety purposes.
In this decision, the role of the Agency was to decide whether WestJet properly applied the rules applicable to the ticket purchased by the applicant, as set out in the airline's tariff.
Under the tariff and the Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPR), compensation for inconvenience is owed only in situations within the airline’s control.
The Agency set out its interpretation for crew shortages. According to this interpretation:
- Crew shortages are within the airline's control, unless the airline could not have prevented the flight disruption despite proper planning.
- The threshold for establishing that a crew shortage is not within the airline's control is high, given that airlines generally have control over staffing issues, such as hiring, dispatching and training.
- The airline must provide evidence showing that the crew shortage was not the result of its own actions or inactions.
- Failing this, the disruption is considered within the airline's control for the purposes of the APPR.
In this case, the Agency found that the evidence filed by WestJet did not sufficiently establish that the cancellation resulting from the crew shortage was unavoidable despite proper planning, nor did it demonstrate that the cancellation was not the result of its own actions or inactions.
Therefore, the Agency found that the cancellation of the applicant's flight was within WestJet’s control, as per the APPR and WestJet's tariff. The Agency concluded that the applicant was entitled to compensation for inconvenience, and ordered WestJet to compensate him in the amount of $1,000.