Notice: Requirements for discontinuance of air services

Air carriers are reminded that they are required to provide notice to the Canadian Transportation Agency (Agency), affected communities and responsible ministers of plans to discontinue or reduce the frequency of a domestic service, in certain circumstances, and to provide an opportunity for elected officials of municipal or local governments a chance to meet to discuss.

Background

The Canada Transportation Act (CTA) and Air Transportation Regulations (ATR) require an air carrier that proposes to discontinue or reduce the frequency of a domestic service, in certain circumstances, to provide notice to the Agency, affected communities and responsible ministers of their proposal and to also provide an opportunity for elected officials of the municipal or local government a chance to meet to discuss.

The notice provisions required by the CTA are intended to ensure that communities with limited air service, including remote communities, are made aware enough in advance of any proposed reductions in or discontinuances of air services to their community, in order to permit them to plan for the event, including potentially seeking alternative air carriers to provide air services. Carriers operating in the area are also made aware and can consider whether to provide replacement air services.

For air carriers that are subject to the notice and consultation requirements, once followed, they can discontinue the service. In situations where an air carrier has failed to comply with notice and consultation requirements, on complaint, by any person, the Agency can order the air carrier, where it is practicable for the air carrier to follow the order, to reinstate the service at the specified frequency but for no more than 120 days.

However, during the COVID 19 pandemic, the Agency has found that compliance by air carriers with the notice and consultation requirements is impractical and has, pursuant to Order No. 2021-A-2 provided certain exemptions that permit air carriers to temporarily suspend or reduce services until August 31, 2021 without having to follow the notice and consultation requirements.

Appendix I provides the specific legal requirements. Compliance with these requirements and the related Agency orders will be monitored and enforced by Agency staff.

When do the notice and consultation requirements normally apply?

Air carriers are subject to the CTA and ATR notice and consultation requirements when an air carrier proposes:

  1. to discontinue a domestic service or to reduce the frequency of such a service to a community to less than one flight per week and, as a result of the proposed discontinuance or reduction, there will be only one air carrier or no air carrier offering at least one flight per week to that community; and
  2. to discontinue its year-round non-stop scheduled air service between two communities in Canada and that discontinuance would result in a reduction, as compared to the week before the proposal is to take effect, of at least 50% of the weekly passenger-carrying capacity of all air carriers operating year-round non-stop scheduled air services between those two communities.

What process must air carriers normally follow when the notice and the consultation requirements apply?

In situations where the notice and consultation requirements apply, air carriers must not discontinue a service prior to:

  1. providing an opportunity for elected officials of the municipal or local government of the community or communities to meet and discuss with the air carrier the impact of the proposed discontinuance or reduction.
  2. 120 days (or any shorter notice period that the Agency may specify) after providing notice:
    1. to the Agency, to the Minister and to the minister responsible for transportation in the province or territory where the area to be affected is located; and
    2. to holders of domestic licenses operating in the area to be affected by the proposal and to persons resident therein, by publishing notice in newspapers with the largest circulation in that area in each official language.

Are air carriers required to follow the notice and consultation requirements during the Agency's exemption order?

Air carriers can until August 31, 2021, temporarily reduce or suspend services without having to follow the notice and consultation requirements of the CTA and ATR on the condition that once the exemption ends, air carriers who have taken advantage of the exemption to temporarily reduce or suspend services on certain routes will immediately resume those services and follow all of the requirements of section 64 of the CTA and section 14 of the ATR, if they wish to reduce or eliminate any services on a permanent basis [Agency Order No. 2021-A-2].

During the period of the Agency's exemption order, what process can air carriers follow, if they want to permanently reduce or discontinue services?

  1. Provided an opportunity for elected officials of the municipal or local government of the community or communities to meet and discuss with the air carrier the impact of the proposed discontinuance or reduction; and
  2. Provided notice 30 days in advance:
    1. to the Agency, to the Minister and to the minister responsible for transportation in the province or territory where the area to be affected is located; and
    2. to holders of domestic licenses operating in the area to be affected by the proposal and to persons resident therein,
      • by publishing notice in newspapers with the largest circulation in that area in each official language or
      • by publishing notice of discontinuance on its website and the establishing of a dedicated webpage for this purpose that is easily accessible from its homepage.

Appendix I - Legal Requirements

Pursuant to section 64 of the Canada Transportation Act:

64(1) Where a licensee proposes to discontinue a domestic service or to reduce the frequency of such a service to a point to less than one flight per week and, as a result of the proposed discontinuance or reduction, there will be only one licensee or no licensee offering at least one flight per week to that point, the licensee shall give notice of the proposal in prescribed form and manner to such persons as are prescribed.

(1.1) If a licensee proposes to discontinue its year-round non-stop scheduled air service between two points in Canada and that discontinuance would result in a reduction, as compared to the week before the proposal is to take effect, of at least 50% of the weekly passenger-carrying capacity of all licensees operating year-round non-stop scheduled air services between those two points, the licensee shall give notice of the proposal in the prescribed form and manner to the prescribed persons.

(1.2) A licensee shall, as soon as practicable, provide an opportunity for elected officials of the municipal or local government of the community of the point or points, as the case may be, to meet and discuss with the licensee the impact of the proposed discontinuance or reduction.

(2) A licensee shall not implement a proposal referred to in subsection (1) or (1.1) until the expiry of 120 days, or 30 days if the service referred to in that subsection has been in operation for less than one year, after the notice is given or until the expiry of any shorter period that the Agency may, on application by the licensee, specify by order.

(3) In considering whether to specify a shorter period under subsection (2), the Agency shall have regard to

(a) the adequacy of alternative modes of public transportation available at or in the vicinity of the point referred to in subsection (1) or between the points referred to in subsection (1.1);

(b) other means by which air service to the point or between the points is or is likely to be provided;

(c) whether the licensee has complied with subsection (1.2); and

(4) In this section, non-stop scheduled air service means an air service operated between two points without any stops in accordance with a published timetable or on a regular basis.

Pursuant to section 65 of the Canada Transportation Act:

65 Where, on complaint in writing to the Agency by any person, the Agency finds that a licensee has failed to comply with section 64 and that it is practicable in the circumstances for the licensee to comply with an order under this section, the Agency may, by order, direct the licensee to reinstate the service referred to in that section

(a) for such a period, not exceeding 120 days after the date of the finding by the Agency, as the Agency deems appropriate; and

(b) at such a frequency as the Agency may specify

Pursuant to section 14 of the Air Transportation Regulations:

14(1) For the purposes of subsection 64(1) of the Act, a licensee proposing to discontinue or to reduce the frequency of a domestic service to a point to less than one flight per week, where, as a result of the proposed discontinuance or reduction, there will be only one licensee or no licensee offering at least one flight per week to that point, shall give notice of the proposal

(a) to the Agency, to the Minister and to the minister responsible for transportation in the province or territory where the area to be affected is located, by sending them a notice in the form set out in Schedule III; and

(b) to holders of domestic licences operating in the area to be affected by the proposal and to persons resident therein, by publishing notice in the form set out in Schedule III in newspapers with the largest circulation in that area in each official language, the names of which newspapers shall be obtainable from the Agency on request by the licensee.

(1.1) For the purposes of subsection 64(1.1) of the Act, a licensee proposing to discontinue a year-round non-stop scheduled air service between two points in Canada, where the proposed discontinuance would result in a reduction, as compared to the week before the proposal is to take effect, of at least 50% of the weekly passenger-carrying capacity of all licensees operating year-round non-stop scheduled air services between those two points, shall give notice of the proposal to the persons, and in the manner, referred to in paragraphs (1)(a) and (b).

(2) The date of the notice referred to in paragraph (1)(b) shall be the same as the date on which the notice appears in the newspaper.

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