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Flight delays not Air Canada's fault, B.C. tribunal says

In a recent decision, B.C.'s Civil Resolution Tribunal said flight delays due to airport issues were beyond Air Canada's control.
Air Canada was not at fault for flight delays, a B.C. tribunal has ruled.

A B.C. man has lost his bid to get compensation from Air Canada following international flight delays.

Sandeep Sull told B.C. Civil Resolution Tribunal vice-chair Shelley Lopez that Air Canada delayed his flight, causing him to miss a connection. He was flying to Vancouver from Boston via Montreal.

Sull claimed $4,267 in damages for himself and a family member.

Air Canada, however, said it owes no compensation as the delay was due to airport limitations caused by circumstances outside Air Canada’s control.

The tribunal agreed.

The airline said it made alternative flight arrangements for Sull — which it says is all that it was required to do.

Case details

Tribunal documents state Sull had booked international Air Canada flights in June 2022. A return flight out of Boston scheduled to depart June 8 at 3:50 p.m. and arrive at 5:05 p.m. in Montreal was delayed by 74 minutes.

As a result, Sull would have missed his connecting flight from Montreal to Vancouver, which left Montreal at 6:30 p.m. and was scheduled to arrive in Vancouver at 8:52 p.m. on June 8.

He remained in Boston.

However, Air Canada arranged for a revised itinerary, with Sull flying out of Montreal on June 9 at 7:25 a.m. and arriving in Vancouver at 9:55 a.m. That meant Sull was in Boston waiting for flight AC750 to arrive that would then become AC751 to Montreal.

But, due to gate issues in Boston, the plane was an hour late getting disembarked.

“Air Canada says this ultimately led to the delay of flight AC751,” Lopez said.

As a result, AC751 did not actually land in Montreal until 6:27 p.m. and was not at its gate until 6:36 p.m., after the flight for Vancouver had left, Lopez said.

Sull said staffing issues are a reason for compensation. He relied on a Canadian Transportation Agency webpage saying situations within an airline’s control include “staffing issue” and disruptions due to scheduled maintenance.

Air Canada said the issue was not a staffing one. Rather, the company said, the issue was about access to the Boston gate and authorization to deplane.

“I find a ‘gate hold’ and a ‘long taxi’ are not staffing issues within Air Canada’s control, as Mr. Sull appears to argue,” Lopez said. “While Mr. Sull also made general arguments about ‘crew shortage,’ there is no evidence before me that the flight’s delay resulted from an Air Canada crew shortage.”

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