Status Quo for Limits of Liability under Montreal Convention

Airbus A380

The Montreal Convention of 1999 (“MC99”) establishes liability limits for commercial aircraft operators for damages in relation to the international carriage of passengers, baggage and cargo.  Article 17 provides that the carrier is liable for the death or bodily injury of a passenger involving an accident which occurs on board the aircraft or in the course of embarking or disembarking.  MC99 also provides that the operator may be liable for damage or loss to baggage or cargo and for delay.  Articles 21 and 22 of MC99 set out limits to the amount of this liability.  These limits are expressed in Special Drawing Rights (“SDRs”), an international “currency” established by the International Monetary Fund.  The value of a SDR is calculated …

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Year in Review: Airline Liability for “Bumping”

Uncle Sam

In July 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit released a ruling in the case of Campbell v. Air Jamaica Ltd.  This decision confirmed that a passenger can only recover expenses arising from delay after being “bumped” from a scheduled international flight.

Mr. Campbell, despite being checked-in and issued a boarding pass, was bumped from his flight on to a flight departing the next day.  In addition, he was charged a $150 change fee.  He sued the airline for damages stemming from the bumping, which also allegedly contributed to him suffering a heart attack.  Mr. Campbell claimed that as a result of his bumping and refusal of hotel accommodations, he was forced to sleep outside the …

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Court grants injunction against airport protests

protest

In January 2014, we reported on a decision of the Alberta Provincial Court acquitting on criminal charges of trespass eight members of an anti-abortion organization engaged in demonstrations in the Calgary Airport in 2011.  The protesters had reasonably believed they were permitted to demonstrate on Airport premises given a 1991 decision of the Supreme Court of Canada (Committee for the Commonwealth of Canada v. Canada) which concluded that prohibiting the distribution of political pamphlets at an airport violated freedom of expression under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

It had been argued that the circumstances were distinguishable from the Committee case, as major Canadian airports at the time were run by the federal government, while they …

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Year in Review: Thibodeau v. Air Canada – The Exclusivity of the Montreal Convention

Gavel - trans

Michel and Lynda Thibodeau (the “Thibodeaus”) launched several complaints before Canada’s Commissioner of Official Languages (the “Commissioner”) alleging that Air Canada had contravened its obligations under the Official Languages Act (“OLA”) to provide services in French. They alleged that on two trips they made in 2009, Air Canada had failed to offer services in French at check-in counters, boarding gates and aboard flights on which there was significant demand for services in French, and that it made passenger announcements only in English.

The Commissioner found that all but two of the complaints had merit. The matter then proceeded before the Federal Court of Canada, which awarded $6,000 in damages to each of the Thibodeaus, representing $1,500 per violation. The Federal …

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New Exemptions for Commercial UAV Operators

UAV

Transport Canada recently introduced two new exemptions to simplify commercial unmanned air vehicle (UAV) operations and safely integrate them into Canadian airspace.

UAV operations are regulated by Transport Canada under the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs) and the Aeronautics Act.  The CARs define a UAV as a “power-driven aircraft, other than a model aircraft, that is designed to fly without a human operator on board”.  “Model aircraft” under the CARs is defined as only those unmanned aircraft weighing less than 35 kg and being used for recreational purposes.

Previously, all UAVs, as defined under CARs, required a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC) for their operation, under Section 602.41 of CARs.  A SFOC authorizes the operation of a UAV for a …

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Canadian Transportation Agency rules that passengers cannot take advantage of mistake fares

mistake concepts, with oops message on keyboard.

In our increasingly electronic age, more air travellers are purchasing flights online, on the basis of posted fare prices.  But what happens in the case of “mistake fares”, when the wrong fare price is mistakenly posted online?  Is the airline still required to transport the passenger at the posted price, even if that price is significantly lower than the fare it intended to charge?

In the United States, Department of Transportation (DoT) regulations prohibit airlines from increasing the price of a fare after the ticket has been purchased.  While the precise impact of this regulation in relation to “mistake fares” has been the subject of some debate in the U.S., the DoT has taken the position that it applies to …

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New Trial – New Decision: Crash in a Deliberate Single Engine Take-Off is an “Accident”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A recent decision of the Ontario Superior Court considered the definition of an “accident” within the meaning of an aviation policy of insurance, with important consequences for insurers and pilots.  Click here for our blog post on this issue, and click here to access a copy of the court decision.…

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Amendments to Transport Canada’s Oversight of Private Operators

Pilot

Background

Following the Transportation Safety Board of Canada’s report regarding a 2007 accident involving a private operator aircraft, the Minister of Transport determined that the certification and oversight of private operators were core responsibilities of Transport Canada that should not be held by the private sector.  Accordingly, on May 30, 2014, the Minister announced new regulatory amendments for the oversight of private air operators. These amendments are all-encompassing, affecting requirements regarding:  registration; flight operations; personnel requirements and training programs; emergency equipment; maintenance; cabin safety; and safety management systems.

These amendments have been long anticipated, and since April 1, 2011, Transport Canada has certified private operators through the means of interim orders and the issuance of Temporary Private Operator Certificates (TPOC).…

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Overhaul of Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Program affects Foreign Pilots

Canadian Flag

On June 20, 2014, the Government of Canada announced sweeping changes to its Temporary Foreign Worker Program, many of which were effective immediately.  Pilots are one of very few specific occupations that were singled out in the changes.

Under the former system, employers were required to obtain authority to hire a foreign worker through a “Labour Market Opinion”.  Employers must now apply for a Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA), which is a more comprehensive and rigorous process.  The LMIA must include information about the number of Canadians who have applied for the available job, the number of Canadians interviewed, and an explanation of why those Canadians were not hired.  A new job matching service has been introduced in an effort …

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Supreme Court to Hear Appeal regarding Alleged Discrimination by Bombardier against Pakistani-Canadian Pilot

Uncle Sam

In May 2014, the Supreme Court of Canada agreed to hear an appeal from the decision of the Quebec Court of Appeal in Bombardier Inc. v. Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse, 2013 QCCA 1650.  In its decision, the Court of Appeal had overturned a decision of the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal finding that Bombardier discriminated against a pilot of Pakistani descent in refusing him entry into a pilot training program.

In 2003, Javed Latif, a Canadian pilot with 25 years’ experience and in possession of both Canadian and US pilot’s licenses, applied to a pilot training program at the Bombardier Aerospace Training Center in Dallas, Texas.  As a non-US citizen, he was …

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