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Kelowna couple win court battle with Air Canada over flight delay

A Kelowna couple have successfully sued Air Canada after claiming the airline was to blame for them arriving at their final destination more than two days later than scheduled.

In the suit filed in small claims court, doctors Abdallah Mohamed and Ghada Ali said they booked a flight for themselves and three family members from Kelowna to Cairo last year.

They were to have departed Kelowna for Vancouver at 5:30 p.m. on the evening of July 4 and, with connections in Vancouver and London, England, arrive at their final destination, Cairo, Egypt late in the evening of July 5.

However, they claim “staffing issues” within Air Canada’s control resulted in their flight leaving Kelowna two hours and nine minutes late resulting in them missing their connecting flight to London.

The airline did rebook the family members on a flight leaving Vancouver at 6 p.m. July 6, resulting in their arrival in Cairo 56 hours later than scheduled.

They sought $5,000 in compensation under the Air Passenger Protection Regulations based on $1,000 per family member.

In its defence, Air Canada claimed the overall delay was due to air traffic control and a ground delay program operated by Navigation Canada out of Kelowna and thus out of its control.

The adjudicator hearing the case in reviewing the evidence concluded some of the delay was outside of Air Canada’s control due to Nav Canada’s ground delay program, while some fell within Air Canada’s control due to its own staffing issues.

In making a determination, it was noted Air Canada did not address the argument that a WestJet flight left Kelowna on time at 5:30 p.m. and how that was possible if the ground crews were a primary cause for the delay.

The applicant further argued a ground delay program report that indicated the average reported delay was between 48 and 97 minutes, yet their delay was 129 minutes.

“While I have found there was a [ground delay program] outside Air Canada’s control that had some impact on AC8279, I find the weight of the evidence does not show that was the primary cause,” the adjudicator ruled.

“I find the onus is on Air Canada to show the primary cause of the delay that impacted the applicants’ ability to make their connecting flight was out of their control and I find it has failed to do so.”

The couple was awarded $2,000 in compensation.

It was noted the applicants did not have standing to claim compensation for the other three family members but stated the three remaining family members could make their own claim against the airline.


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