Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I want to begin by drawing people's attention to what happened in Vancouver last year. I'm told that there was a snowstorm and people were stuck for a couple of days. One of the passengers did tell me that in fact the airline, in this case Air Canada, was planning to subrogate against what it saw as the guilty party--which was the airport, right?
So to answer Mr. Laframboise's question about what should happen, the Cubana people would be paying the passengers for the tarmac delays, and they in turn would subrogate against who they saw as the guilty party, which might be the airport authority.
But that's for them to sort out. We cannot solve everybody's problems here.
I want to deal with a couple of other issues.
Mr. McKenna is the first industry lobbyist I've run into who seems to have adopted a reasonable approach. I say that because he has talked about amendments to the bill.
We have heard the industry lobby. We have actually drafted some amendments. One of them, by one of the members, is to make certain that the compensation doesn't exceed the amount of the ticket.
It was mentioned by you that if you bought a $99 ticket, you shouldn't get a huge amount of compensation. That in fact is one of the amendments that's going to be brought in.
I would certainly like to get a copy of all of your proposed amendments, because we may have forgotten one or two along the way.
You talked about excluding certain airlines under 40 seats or 60 seats or whatever. That is a certain possibility as well. I think there is one amendment being drafted to possibly exclude airlines way up north, up in the Northwest Territories. These are things that can be resolved by amendments.
We have an amendment to reduce the tarmac delay penalty from $500 to $100. I'm sure that would be a big help to you.
We have another amendment to reduce the compensation for cancelled flights and denied boarding to half of what the compensation is currently in the European law. We're taking them back to what it was in Europe five years ago. As you know, the European legislation didn't start just five years ago. It's been around since 1991. Air Canada is very familiar with that legislation. Since 1991 they've been paying out under it. We've now taken those penalties, those compensation levels, back to what they were in Europe five years ago.
These are amendments that have already been drafted. When we get to that stage, members of this committee will be introducing those amendments. We'd certainly like to see what other amendments you would suggest so that we can actually get them drafted.
There's one other point I want to bring up, and that's the issue of flight rights. I was under the impression, up until now, that the flight rights agreement was being adopted by only four carriers--Air Canada, WestJet, Air Transat, and another member of the group--and that they were the only carriers that were putting flight rights in their tariffs. We're having a lot of trouble finding out where they are, because Air Canada alone has, like, 115 pages on their website dealing with these.
At any rate, the downside of flight rights is that it can change. The tariffs are different with each airline, as you know. You can fly from Toronto to Calgary with Air Canada and be under one set of tariffs, and then fly from Calgary to Vancouver with another airline and be under another set.
Now, what kind of a mess are you going to have on your hands when you have a customer trying to sort out who's responsible for what? Plus, we understood there were only the four carriers who were subject to flight rights.
In addition, flight rights has been shown to be totally ineffective. As a previous Liberal speaker pointed out, the flight rights agreement has no penalties. The only positive thing I saw in flight rights was that it recognized that 90 minutes was the maximum amount of time that people should be kept cooped up in airplanes.
I thought that was very important, that the Canadian airline industry decided—I don't know how they figured this out—that somehow 90 minutes was what they felt was long enough and at that point they were prepared to let people off the plane. We simply said, well, if they say 90, we can say 60, and we will have some compensations.
I do want to say in addition that the bill is very clear, if you read it. These bills are drafted by legal teams. We have two exclusions.
On the tarmac delay itself, the exclusion reads as follows:
an opportunity to disembark from the aircraft if it is possible to do so without causing any undue risk to the health or safety of the passengers or any other person or to the safe operation of the aircraft or any other aircraft
That's the exclusion. Our lawyers have looked at it. They feel that gives the pilot lots of flexibility. If they feel it doesn't, you can change that.