Air travel groups are criticizing the Trudeau government’s proposed changes to the air passenger bill of rights – warning Canadians that the changes may result in higher airfares. 

This comes amid Canada already having some of the most expensive flight prices in the world. 

On Thursday, the federal Liberals tabled legislation to amend the Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPR), as part of Bill C-47, the Budget Implementation Act. They claim that these amendments will lead to Canada having the “toughest” passenger protection laws. 

The changes seek to limit situations in which airlines can refuse to compensate passengers affected by flight disruptions. The changes will also increase penalties for non-compliant airlines, modify the complaint process and require airlines to pay the Canadian Transportation Industry a portion of the cost of processing complaints.

In response to the government’s proposed changes, the National Airlines Council of Canada warned in a news release that the latter may result in more expensive airfares.

“By imposing a new fee for passenger claims submitted to the Canadian Transportation Agency and expanding compensation requirements, the cost of air travel may increase, threatening access, connectivity, and choice for passengers,” said the NACC.

The NACC believes “the proposed amendments to the Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPR) contained in Bill C-47 will not improve the operation of Canada’s air travel system or the travel experience for customers.”

The group added that “targeted infrastructure funding, re-investment of airport rent, increasing the accountability of third-party service providers, and reduction of costs and fees would strengthen the system, as has been repeatedly recommended by many parliamentary committee and government reports issued over the last several years.” 

The Liberals’ proposed changes are also being criticized by Air Passenger Rights president Gabor Lukacs. Lukacs told True North “the government is weakening passenger rights in Canada.”

Lukacs also told CTV News that the changes actually create a new loophole for airlines that will allow them not to pay penalties.

The air passenger bill of rights amendments have also been criticized by opposition parties, with Conservatives saying they “will do nothing” to address a backlog of passenger complaints. The NDP described the changes as “complex, bureaucratic and expensive.”

In an interview with CBC Radio, transport minister Omar Alghabra defended his proposal, saying “we’re not asking the airlines to do more than what they promised their customers they would do.”

“We’re not holding them responsible for things they don’t control. We’re asking them to deliver on what they promised customers. And I think this will be better for customers. This will be better for airlines. And this will be better for everyone.”

The changes to Canada’s Passenger Bill of Rights come after a disastrous 2022 that saw air passengers subjected to extremely long wait times, delays, as well as several flight cancellations.